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Thursday, December 12, 2013
Monte Kiffin quit? 'It ain't happening.'

By Calvin Watkins

IRVING, Texas -- The defense is ranked last overall, last against the pass and worse than all but four teams against the run. Only six teams give up more points.

There are calls for his head. Calls for him to retire. Quit. Get fired.

But Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin isn't leaving.

Monte Kiffin
Monte Kiffin's defense is struggling mightily, and he's willing to make changes to fix it.
"Not really," Kiffin said. "I don't think so. Hadn't really thought about that. I would say that would be kind of like a player, 'Let's throw it in, let's throw in the towel.' Like telling your players, 'Don't play that hard anymore. Let's give it up.' It ain't happening."

When it comes to changes to the defense, Kiffin said he's open to making some, especially if it will help an ailing unit that has allowed two opponents to gain more than 600 yards, another two to gain more than 500 and three others to exceed 400 yards.

Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he wants to see some tricks and more risks with the defense, and Kiffin agrees.

Lineup changes aren't forthcoming. Despite the struggles in the secondary, safety Jeff Heath remains as the starter and cornerback Morris Claiborne, when he returns from his health/personal issues, will continue to play the nickel role. The defensive line that's struggled to get a pass rush of late will maintain its starting four. The only apparent switch could occur with veteran corner Sterling Moore playing over rookie B.W. Webb on passing situations.

"We're not stubborn," Kiffin said. "'Boy, I tell you one thing, I tell ya, this thing's going to work, I tell you right now.' You don't do that as a coach. That's being a stubborn coach. We won't do that. We're looking at things, yeah."

It was interesting to hear coach Jason Garrett say he doesn't expect any structural changes within the defensive coaching staff. On offense, Garrett moved quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson to the press box so he could relay the play calls of Bill Callahan to Tony Romo to help with the communication.

Garrett said a potential change, such as moving Kiffin to the field or switching defensive-line coach Rod Marinelli to the press box, isn't happening.

In 13 seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kiffin's defenses finished in the top five in total defense eight times and in the top 10 on 11 occasions. When it came to points allowed, Kiffin ran a defense that 12 times finished in the top 10.

It's that history, and his confidence in the 4-3 scheme and his personnel, that gives Kiffin hope.

"We're always that way," he said. "That's the only way you can do it. That's the only way you coach. That's the only way you play. 'Oh my gosh, we're in trouble now' or whatever. No. We've been through this thing before. It's not our first time. We played a couple of good games, then we seem to come back to that third game [and it] jumps up and gets us. Now we've got to bounce back again. That's all we can do."