Coaches have learned players' strengths

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
10:52
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- Most of the time when teams make scheme changes the talk centers around the players getting used to the new offense or defense. Rarely is the talk about the coaches running those schemes getting used to the players.

In the last two games the Cowboys have played more man-to-man coverage with cornerbacks Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne.

It seems Monte Kiffin has learned what Carr, Scandrick and Claiborne do best.

“We all have convictions about what wins in football, what systems we want to use, but you also have to recognize who is on your football team,” coach Jason Garrett said. “You have got to constantly remind yourself to put these players in the position where they can be successful individually and then you can be successful as a unit. When you have new players, there is a challenge to do that and a challenge to do that well, because you don’t know the player that much. But you try to teach and teach fast and teach simply, so the guy can go out there and execute.”

Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is the father of the Tampa 2 scheme, but the Cowboys have not played that much. They have given more single-high looks with their safeties dropping down to help in the running game, especially last week facing the NFL’s leading rusher in LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles.

That puts more burden on the cornerbacks. The Cowboys gave Carr $50 million, traded up to get Claiborne with the No. 6 pick last year, and extended Scandrick’s contract two years ago because of their ability to play man coverage.

The Cowboys have mixed in zone looks, but Kiffin has learned to trust his cornerbacks.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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