Dallas Cowboys: gus bradley

Monte Kiffin told his players to study two teams’ defenses from last season: the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks.

A couple of Kiffin disciples (new Dallas defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and new Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley) coordinated those two units, which ranked among the NFL’s top five in scoring defense, total defense and turnovers forced.

Cowboys safety Barry Church joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the new defensive scheme and the impact it will have on him, how much more intense he expects practice to be with Monte Kiffin and his expectations.

Listen Listen
Another thing the Chicago and Seattle defenses had in common: They featured tough, playmaking cornerbacks. In fact, those were arguably the best two cornerback combos in the league last season.

Chicago’s Tim Jennings led the NFL with nine interceptions. His counterpart, Charles Tillman, forced a league-high 10 fumbles, recovered two and returned all three of his interceptions for touchdowns.

Seattle’s Richard Sherman tied for second behind Jennings with eight picks and tied for second among corners with three forced fumbles. Brandon Browner, the bully who plays opposite of Sherman, also forced three fumbles and had three picks despite missing four games due to a suspension.

See why the Cowboys were so dismissive about the discussion that Kiffin’s scheme didn’t put a premium on cornerbacks?

The corners in Chicago and Seattle set the standard for Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne.

“They’re aggressive. They’re physical. They’re always attacking the ball,” Carr said. “They’re showing press with Seattle. With Chicago, they’re playing the hard Cover 2 scheme, but they’re up there dictating the flow of the receivers. That’s what we want to do. We want to dictate the flow and not let them attack us. We’re going to attack them.”

The Cowboys didn’t get enough of a return on their investments in the corners last season. After giving Carr a five-year, $50 million deal and packaging their top two picks to move up to sixth overall to select Claiborne, the Cowboys’ starting corners combined for only four interceptions, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in 2012, when Dallas forced the second-fewest turnovers in the NFC.

That’s one of the primary reasons Rob Ryan no longer reports to work at Valley Ranch. As the defense’s injuries stacked up throughout the course of the season, the corners were assigned to play soft zone coverage more frequently, which caused some behind-the-scenes grumbling.

Despite the Tampa 2 tag, the Cowboys will blend in several other looks with the Cover 2 staples. The corners have been told that they’ll consistently be lined up within breath-smelling distance of receivers.

“This defense kind of caters to Claiborne’s and my abilities out there, our traits, our qualities,” Carr said. “It allows us to go up there and press pretty much the whole game. Whether we play Cover 1, Cover 2, Cover 3, you’ll have to find out after the (snap), but it allows us to be aggressive and go out there and dictate the game.”

Are Carr and Claiborne worth the price the Cowboys paid for them? They’ll have a chance to prove they are in a scheme similar to ones that feature star corners in Chicago and Seattle.

Cowboys will be more than Tampa 2

February, 24, 2013
On looking at how the corners will be used: The great misnomer about Tampa 2 defenses, and it’s something as an offensive coordinator we talked about Wednesday morning when you’re getting ready to play a so-called Tampa 2 team, they play a lot more single-high defense than they do Tampa 2. And that’s been that way for a long, long time. But what those guys want to do is get you in those passing situations by defending the run and then letting those guys rush up front and play coverage behind them. That’s been their history for a long, long time. Anybody who has ever played in a Tampa 2 style defense also has to play a single-high style of defense. And certainly some of the things Seattle has done from a front standpoint, playing some of their eight-man fronts and some of their pressures, are similar to what Monte has done in the past. I think what they’ve tried to do is fit their scheme to what their personnel is. And we’ll certainly try to do the same thing.

A Mel Kiper Jr. mock draft!

January, 16, 2013
Sorry for the delay in posting this morning. Two-hour delayed school opening, shoveling and an epic snowball battle with two young men whose aggressiveness outpaces their size. Lots going on here, and that doesn't even count monitoring the travel itinerary of Mr. Gus Bradley. But I'm here now, and I come bearing fun gifts -- Mel Kiper's first mock draft Insider of 2013. Here's who Mel has for our teams. Remember, the Redskins don't have a first-round pick.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama. Can't fault the Eagles if they take a cornerback here. Can't fault anyone for taking an Alabama kid. I think they should go with Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel if he's there, but Mel has him going No. 1 to Andy Reid and the Chiefs, so he's not.

18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina: The Cowboys need to address one of their lines in the first round, and the top guards this year are exceptionally highly rated. So while a tackle might be preferable, there would be nothing wrong with strengthening an area of significant weakness. Of course, you know the Cowboys will trade up for some big-game guy and reduce their inventory of picks again, but assuming common sense prevails this time, a lineman at 18 works fine.

19. New York Giants: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU: I think the Giants need to think offensive line here, too, but they don't, and when you're projecting the draft it's never a bad idea to project a pass rusher to the Giants in the first round. That's where they think the first-round value is, and they have some track record to back it up.