Another Cowboys Debacle

Blame Monte Kiffin and his defense for soon-to-be-lost Cowboys season

Blame Monte Kiffin and his defense for soon-to-be-lost Cowboys season

How do I say this? I’m sorry.

When the Cowboys hired Monte Kiffin to coordinate their defense and transition the unit from the 3-4 to the 4-3, I thought Jerry Jones was making an astute hire. I had covered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and watched Kiffin work his magic with four different Bucs defenses. I thought his knowledge and experience would translate into a better Cowboys defense in 2013.

This Cowboys defense has been the worst unit in the NFL this season. Kiffin isn’t the only one at fault, but it’s clear he hasn’t reached his audience.

 So they had 10 days to prepare, a defense at near-full health and a Bears team with a backup quarterback, and this is what they did? Inexcusable.

The Cowboys had a clear opportunity to keep pace in the NFC East. They were facing a Bears team with a backup at quarterback, Josh McCown, though McCown has played well.

But more important, the Cowboys were as healthy on defense as they have been in more than a month. Linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant returned to the lineup, and defensive end DeMarcus Ware was as close to 100 percent as he could be after a 10-day break for Thanksgiving.

So what did the Cowboys defense do? They gave up points on Chicago’s first eight possessions, en route to a 45-28 loss. They gave up 348 yards passing and four scores to McCown, who went 27-of-36 passing. They gave up 150 rushing yards. They allowed the Bears to go 8-of-11 on third down.

It was, pound for pound, their worst performance of the season. Yes, they gave up more yards and points to the Broncos (but only barely). Yes, the Saints racked up 40 first downs.

But this was December football, when playoff dreams are made and broken. This is the time of year in which the Cowboys tend to wilt, and that’s what they did in the frigid Chicago night. They wilted, thanks to a defense that looked slow, out of position and incapable of execution.

So they had 10 days to prepare, a defense at near-full health and a Bears team with a backup quarterback, and this is what they did? Inexcusable.

But not unbelievable.

Since the 2010 season, the Cowboys are 7-9 in December and January. Since the start of the 2011 season, the Cowboys are 18-2 against teams that are below .500 and 5-19 against teams that are .500 or better. Make that 5-20 after Monday night’s debacle.

What makes it worse is that the Cowboys tease you with a great November. Since 2010, the Cowboys are 11-5 in November. The Cowboys are like that trout that comes up to your line, takes a nibble of the bait but won’t bite into the hook.

The Cowboys can’t bite into success in a way in which it leads to a playoff berth or division championship. It’s as if the second this team gets a little prosperity, it can’t stand it and has to give it up.

The natural thing would be to blame Tony Romo. But Cowboys fans can’t and shouldn’t blame Romo this year. Yes, statistically, he’s having a down year. But you asked him to be more efficient and make fewer mistakes and, well, take a look. He’s doing it.

No, this about-to-be-lost season is on the Cowboys’ defense, a haggard, banged-up unit that, at its core, doesn’t seem to want to embrace the principles of Kiffin’s cover 2 defense. As a result, this unit is having a season that may go down as the worst in franchise history.

Kiffin will pay the price for this at year’s end because someone must. And if Rob Ryan wasn’t good enough, and if Kiffin isn’t good enough, it makes you wonder what poor soul Jones believes is good enough to run this defense in 2014.

Dallas Cowboys vs Chicago Bears
The Cowboys defense fell short against the Bears. Photo courtesy of Dallas Cowboys
Monte Kiffin
I thought Monte Kiffin was a good hire. What can I say? I'm sorry. Dallascowboys.com
Tony Romo vs. Chicago Bears
Cowboys fans can't blame Tony Romo this year. Photo courtesy of Dallas Cowboys