Are the Dallas Cowboys really about to hire a 72-year-old defensive coordinator? It would certainly seem so as Monte Kiffin has been at Valley Ranch all day meeting with Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett. To be honest, it’s not as big a surprise as I thought because a lot of Jason Garrett’s coaching philosophies seem to stem from his time in the Jimmy Johnson regime. With that in mind, it makes sense that he would want a 4-3 defense with a primary emphasis on speed. So while many will question who is making this decision, I think a change like this could be pointed more at Garrett, as Jones seemed very reluctant to give up on Parcells’ favored 3-4 once the switch was made in 2003.
However, the real question is this: Will this move have any impact? Will Kiffin be able to bring his defense’s propensity for turning the ball over to Dallas, or – like the classic card hustle that shares his name – is this an unsophisticated shell game that is simply trying to distract us from another failed season?
It is unfair, though, to boil Kiffin’s time in Tampa down to just having good players. Is Derrick Brooks walking through that door? No, but most NFL teams would love to have Sean Lee. Is 1999 Warren Sapp going to come wear a star on his helmet? No, but you would be hard-pressed to find any personnel department with negative things to say about DeMarcus Ware. Is Ronde Barber interested in a Tiki-like comeback? I doubt it, but Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are pretty solid in their own right. Also, a lot of people are questioning if Ware can be as effective in Kiffin’s 4-3 alignment. To them I ask, did weighing less than 285 have any effect on Simion Rice in this scheme? Kiffin simply makes the most of the players he is given. Ware will be as successful as ever if Kiffin is hired and the defense scheme is changed.
Hiring 72 year-old Monte Kiffin does smack of desperation, and it may be an attempt at sleight of hand in order to take some heat off of the head coach and ever-present general manager, but it isn’t unwise. This man has a proven track record of multiple stops in which he was successful. Kiffin should improve this defense if given the opportunity, and unless one of his disciples, Lovie Smith, decides he just can’t go on not having been the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, he just might be the best man for the job.