Final Exam: The hiring of Monte Kiffin failed

January, 6, 2014
Jan 6
1:20
PM ET
After two seasons, the Cowboys fired, well Jerry Jones fired, Rob Ryan as the defensive coordinator following the 2012 season.

One of the things Jones cited in his move was a Week 2 loss at Seattle. The Cowboys were not totally healthy in that game, but Jones thought the defense could at least hold off then-rookie quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch.

Jones should have looked at an offense that was shut out in the second half of that game and the turnovers placing the Cowboys in a 10-0 hole at the start.

We now move to the Cowboys' current defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, who was hired to change the scheme, 3-4 to a 4-3, and whose experience, over 30 years, was expected to make things better.

Things weren't better.

Kiffin dealt with injuries to key players such as DeMarcus Ware, Sean Lee, Morris Claiborne, Justin Durant and Jason Hatcher. Kiffin didn't have two projected starters along his line in Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff due to injuries.

Ineffective play by Bruce Carter and late-season slumps by Brandon Carr and Ware also hurt Kiffin.

The Cowboys were just historically bad.

This defense allowed 432 points, the second-highest total in franchise history, and 6,645 yards, a franchise high and third most in league history.

Four quarterbacks threw for at least 400 yards against the defense; that's never happened in league history.

Should Kiffin be given another chance?

Probably not. And while it took nearly two weeks to fire Ryan after the season, Kiffin's fate shouldn't take that long.

It seemed the game has passed him by; he was like this old quarterback trying to play on bad knees for one final time. Kiffin lost his fastball, not because he's 73 years old, but just because he can't handle things well.

The secondary was in shambles, the defensive line rotation was a mess and the pass rush wasn't there. The Cowboys started 2013 well by forcing six turnovers in the season-opening victory against the New York Giants. It was something the Tampa 2 defense is designed to do. But the Cowboys' defense was unable to get six turnovers a game; nobody could. There was one thing that was expected from this defense and it's game-clinching plays at the end of games. This defense didn't get enough of those.

Kiffin is a smart man. Knows more football than anybody on the coaching staff at Valley Ranch.

It's just time to find somebody else to lead this defense because after a historically bad season, there's no coming back from that.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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