IRVING, Texas -- One of the reasons cited when the Dallas Cowboys decided to fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan after last season was that he tried to do too much. In addition to a scheme switch, the Cowboys wanted a more simplistic approach and went to Monte Kiffin.
But are they too simple?
The Cowboys are one of a few teams that do not employ a dime defense -- six defensive backs -- and perhaps it’s hurt them the last two games in which San Diego’s Philip Rivers and Denver’s Peyton Manning threw for more than 400 yards. Athletic tight ends have hurt the Cowboys the past two games with Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas going off for more than 100 yards receiving. The Broncos’ spread look also created some favorable matchups on linebackers. On a second-and-17 play in the fourth quarter of the Denver loss, Ernie Sims was matched up on Wes Welker, who came up with a 16-yard catch.
The Washington Redskins will spread the field with three receivers, which means a nickel defense, but have not had huge production from their tight ends and backs so far.
“Just philosophically, we’re in the nickel world a little bit more with this defensive system,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ve used dime in the past, and that’s something we can look at. Really, what you want to do is evaluate why you think things aren’t as successful as you want them to be and make the appropriate changes, make targeted changes that you think are going to help you get better. We certainly had discussions about that. We just want to make sure any changes we do make to shore up our secondary and our pass defense are changes for the right reasons. We’ll keep evaluating that as the week goes on.”