Who Must Go?
D reached new lows with Kiffin
The Dallas Cowboys had their worst defensive showing in franchise history this season.
That should be the end of the argument regarding which coach needs to be replaced most, but in order to back up the fact that Monte Kiffin should no longer be the defensive coordinator, here goes:
The Cowboys allowed 6,645 yards, which was by far the most in franchise history. Rob Ryan was fired after the 2012 season for the defense giving up what was then a franchise-high 5,687 yards.
The Cowboys allowed 4,835 passing yards, which was by far the most in franchise history. The most had been 3,928 in 1983. Opposing quarterbacks had a 96 passer rating against the Cowboys and completed 64.7 percent of their passes. Four quarterbacks had 400-yard games against the Cowboys, which is the most ever allowed in a single season. Five had four-touchdown games, including backups Josh McCown and Matt Flynn.
The Cowboys allowed 432 points, which was the second-most in franchise history. The 2010 Cowboys allowed 436 points, and Wade Phillips was fired in the middle of the 2010 season in part because of how poorly the defense played.
The best thing the defense did was take the ball away. Phillips' defenses did not do it enough. Neither did Ryan's. But that should not be enough to save Kiffin's job.
And injury me no injuries. Ryan had to deal with injuries too. He lost more starters than Kiffin: Kenyon Coleman, Barry Church, Orlando Scandrick, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and Jeremiah Ratliff ended up on injured reserve or missed the bulk of the season. Kiffin lost Lee for five games, Morris Claiborne for six, DeMarcus Ware for three, Jason Hatcher for one, Carter for one and Anthony Spencer for 15. He never had Ratliff.
Spencer and Justin Durant were the only starters to end up on injured reserve.
If Ryan did not get the benefit of the doubt because of injuries, neither should Kiffin.
He is the father of the Tampa 2. Now he might be the grandfather because the scheme has morphed into something a little different because of the changes in the passing game.
The Cowboys played a dime defense in just one game and only because Lee was hurt. They were in constant mismatches and quarterbacks found holes in the zones. When Kiffin wanted to play man he was hurt by subpar seasons from Brandon Carr and Claiborne, but he didn't adapt enough.
Kiffin said he is not considering retirement. The Cowboys are about to go into the evaluation process. It's hard to see what needs to be evaluated. If this is about making sure Kiffin exits gracefully, then make him some sort of consultant for whoever the next coordinator is.
This season should not take away from Kiffin's exemplary career. If assistant coaches ever earn a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Kiffin should be considered.
But his season with the Cowboys should not be mentioned.
Callahan's play-calling a weak point
The defense has many problems that could be fixed with an upgrade of personnel and a tweak to the scheme.
Monte Kiffin, while I believe should go, isn't totally at fault with the defense.
Offense is another story.
Bill Callahan has to go.
The Cowboys offensive coordinator had too many struggles running the timing-based offense in 2013. Callahan didn't run the ball enough. He says he did, but the stats tell another story.
DeMarco Murray gained 1,124 yards in 2013 thanks to a surge during which he produced consecutive 100-yard games in December. And if not for a nine-yard loss in Landover against the Redskins, he could have made it three consecutive 100-yard games.
Callahan was supposed to bring balance to the Cowboys' offense and didn't. Murray had six games in which he carried the ball fewer than 15 times. He had seven carries before injuring his knee on Oct. 13 against Washington.
We'll give Callahan a pass on that one. Overall he didn't establish the run game enough and he sure didn't look like a man who had control of the quarterback.
Tony Romo changed a run to a pass in Green Bay leading to an interception as part of a dramatic comeback victory for the Packers.
Callahan took the blame for the play call, saying he shouldn't give Romo the option of changing a run to a pass given the defensive alignment.
Callahan knows better.
In the fourth quarter against Philadelphia on Sunday night, faced with a fourth down, Callahan asked Kyle Orton to roll to his right and dump a pass to Murray in the flat. The pass was knocked down.
Murray should have been running the ball, not trying to catch a pass.
It's decisions like these that make you wonder if Callahan knows what he's doing in the press box.
Along the sidelines, wide receiver Dez Bryant was encouraging his teammates to keep plugging away, but you could tell he was seething.
Bryant was saying the right things to the media, but how could Callahan look this man in the face after the Detroit game?
Calvin Johnson is running around playing video games on the Cowboys' secondary and Bryant finished with just three catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
How about New Orleans? Bryant had one catch for 44 yards.
You can blame the quarterback only so much.
Callahan needed to get Bryant going more often in games by putting him in different spots on the field.
It was as if Callahan was playing with some dude who never played football before.
The Cowboys withstood plenty of mistakes from Callahan and he did some good things, particularly with the offensive line, but moving forward, it's probably time for Garrett to take over the play calling duties again.
It's for the best.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Eric Allen talks about how Tony Romo's injury impacts the Cowboys, the Panthers' big win over the Saints, the dysfunctional Lions front office and more.
Dan Le Batard talks about the news that Tony Romo will miss the rest of the season with a back injury and discusses what the injury means for the Cowboys this week and beyond.
ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge previews Eagles-Cowboys and offers his insight on the Panthers' approach to Cam Newton's development, Russell Wilson's struggles and more.
ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter talks about the Bears' disappointing loss on Sunday night, Tony Romo's performance against the Redskins, the futures of Jim Schwartz and Rex Ryan and more.
Robert Flores and Matt Williamson recap every game from Week 16 including Tony Romo's clutch performance against the Redskins and Cam Newton's big drive against the Saints.
ESPN NFL analyst Tim Hasselbeck discusses Tony Romo's performance against the Redskins, whether the Bears should replace Jay Cutler with Josh McCown for the matchup against the Packers and more.
FOX's Brian Billick talks about the Ravens' loss to the Patriots, which team will earn the sixth AFC playoff spot, expectations for Eagles-Cowboys, Peyton Manning's legacy and more.