- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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MOBILE, Ala. -- Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin understands the criticism he faced last season after his unit finished last in the NFL in total defense, allowing 6,645 yards.
Kiffin said don't worry because things will improve.
"It takes time," Kiffin said after watching some of the Senior Bowl practices. "The second year in the system, the same staff. I don't know where we're going but we're going to get better."
Kiffin mentioned his 4-3 Tampa 2 scheme is employed by the Seattle Seahawks and coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks currently have the NFL's best defense. Seattle finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in fewest points allowed, total defense and against the pass. Seattle finished tied for seventh against the run.
In Carroll's first season, under then defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, the Seahawks finished 27th in total defense allowing 5,897 total yards.
Kiffin's point is give the scheme time to develop which was the case in Seattle.
He made tweaks to it during the 2013 season by playing less zone coverage and going with man-to-man utilizing the skill sets of corners Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick and Morris Claiborne. Injuries to several key players, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Sean Lee and Claiborne forced Kiffin to mix and match his personnel at various positions.
A down year from Ware coupled with a bad season from Bruce Carter and Claiborne coupled with inconsistent play at the free safety position also hurt.
"We weren't excited about last year," Kiffin said. "But we'll get better."
2hEric D. Williams