Saturday, September 7, 2013
Cowboys players get ready for new defense
By Calvin Watkins
IRVING, Texas -- For five preseason games and nearly two months of practices, the Cowboys worked on the new 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme.
It's designed to create more turnovers, sacks and quarterback pressures.
Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who ran the defense with the Chicago Bears last season, watched it create an NFL-high 44 total turnovers. The Cowboys had just 16, tied for 28th in the league. Dallas also had just seven interceptions, one of three teams with fewer than 10 picks last season.
Marinelli learned the defense while working with Monte Kiffin in Tampa Bay.
The duo is with the Cowboys with the hopes of fixing a defense that gave up too many big plays in the secondary and, of course, didn't create enough turnovers in the 3-4 defense. Last season's struggles were too much for team owner/general manager Jerry Jones to deal with. So Jones relieved defensive coordinator Rob Ryan of his duties and approved the hiring of Kiffin.
"Everyone is anxious to see it," outside linebacker Justin Durant said of the defense. "We know what we got in here, we're just ready to show it."
This defense moved outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer to defensive ends. Kiffin won't have defensive tackle Jay Ratliff or Spencer due to injuries. Yet, Kiffin does have Ware, coming off an 11.5-sack 2012 season and two talented linebackers, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, and solid corners in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Jason Hatcher, who plays the other defensive tackle spot, had a strong preseason, likewise veteran safety Will Allen, a calming influence with fellow safety Barry Church.
"The whole thing about the preseason is you don't want to show too much as far as blitzes and stuff like that," Carter said. "You just want to go out and run your base stuff and just execute doing that and we did a great job of that in the preseason. Guys just need to learn where they're going to be at and what they got to key. It's a great opportunity to do what you have to do."