The Cowboys defense is an absolute mess right now. Adding insult to injury, they were embarrassed on Sunday night for 49 points against their former defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan. It’s not a stretch to suggest that Jerry Jones is regretting his decision not to bring Ryan back this season.
This season hasn’t just been bad for the Cowboys defense, it’s been atrocious. On Sunday night, the Saints set an NFL record with 40 first downs against Dallas. Big D also allowed 625 total yards, the most in team history.
In their Week-8 game vs the Lions, the Cowboys allowed Calvin Johnson to catch 329 yards worth of passes, good for the 2nd most in a single game in NFL history. Not to mention, the defense collapsed down the stretch, allowing Detroit a last-second win.
In Week 5, the Cowboys allowed 51 points to the Broncos. Peyton Manning could have thrown left-handed and he would have connected with wide-open receivers all day.
Additionally, five quarterbacks have thrown for more than 390 yards against the Cowboys in 10 games this season: Matthew Stafford (488), Eli Manning (450), Peyton Manning (414), Philip Rivers (401), and Drew Brees (392).
Whether it’s the overrated talent (as we pointed out in early October), injuries, a system that doesn’t fit the personnel, or some combination of the three, the defense is the biggest reason for the Cowboys’ inconsistencies as a team this season.
They’ve struggled playing Tampa-2. They’ve struggled in man coverage. They’ve struggled playing situational football. For instance, too often against the Lions, they treated Calvin Johnson like he was just any ol’ receiver when playing zone coverage. Several times, we saw 3 defenders sitting in zone with Calvin Johnson in between them and no other receivers threatening the area. Not one defender locked onto him. A defense has to know where a player like Calvin Johnson is at all times, no matter what the coverage or system.
It wouldn’t be right to shovel all the blame onto Monte Kiffin’s shoulders. As a former defensive coordinator once told us, “I can tell them to play cover 2. But if they play cover 3, there’s not a whole lot I can do.” But whether the blame should be placed on Kiffin, the players, or some combination of the two, the reality is that the Cowboys defense is holding this team back.