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Thread: Examining Why This Defense Is So Bad And How It Got To Be This Way

  1. #1
    Teh Acester Texas Ace's Avatar
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    Examining Why This Defense Is So Bad And How It Got To Be This Way

    I haven't created a football thread here in quite some time, but I was thinking about how bad this defense is and for how long it has been the achilles heel of the team, and it really is astonishing to go back and look at how little attention has been paid to this unit by the organization despite it being so bad for over 7 years now.

    You don't even have to look all that closely to see why this unit is bad now and why we haven't been able to figure it out.

    It simply comes down to effort, or lack thereof, and puzzling decisions and risks taken by a team that wasn't good enough to gamble on players the way that they have.

    It's going to be a bit long, but hopefully those of you on a slow work Monday will be able to entertain me in this discussion.

    So let's take a look at what the Dallas Cowboys have done in regards to defense dating all the way back to 2010 -- Jason Garrett's first season as Head Coach.

    The last time the Cowboys had a legitimately good defense was in 2009. Towards the end of the season, the Cowboys defense caught fire and 1st round talents like Anthony Spencer and Mike Jenkins came alive to give the Cowboys a solid edge rusher to compliment DeMarcus Ware, and arguably the best cover CB (for at least a time) to play for the Cowboys since Deion Sanders. They rode this defense into a strong finish and a division title, and there was reason to believe that the Cowboys were on the verge of building one of the best young defenses in all football headed in to 2010.

    However, 2010 got off to a disastrous start which resulted in Wade Phillips being fired midseason, and the defense was largely to blame. A unit that just a season before had been a strength for the team was now on pace to be a historically bad unit until Wade was fired and the DC duties were handed to Paul Pasqualoni. Practically overnight, Pasqualoni turned the defense into a unit that was creating turnovers left and right and this helped to slow the awful pace they were on and soften the blow a bit.

    Ultimately, the Cowboys would finish the season ranked 23rd on defense. From this point forward, the Cowboys would continue a pattern of producing one of the league's worst units, but more concerning would be the organization's failure to properly address this problem and pour the necessary efforts into improving that side of the ball.

    Let's take a look at the rankings:

    2010 -- 23rd
    2011 -- 14th
    2012 -- 19th
    2013 -- Dead Fricking Last
    2014 -- 19th
    2015 -- 17th
    2016 -- 14th


    As you can see, only twice in seven season have the Cowboys been able to break into the top half of the league, and even then, it was by the slimmest of margins and neither of the units which ranked 14th created turnovers. And that brings me to one of the constants -- they've had 3 different coordinators throughout that time and yet only once in 2014 was this team able to create turnovers on a consistent basis.

    Is it the coaching? Is it the lack of talent? Why have turnovers been so hard to come by for this defense?

    On the subject of talent, when you look at how the Cowboys have attempted to fix the defense, you won't have to look too far to see exactly why the results have not panned out.

    In 4 of these 7 seasons, they Cowboys have used their 2nd round pick on a gamble. Whether it was injury history in the case of Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, and Jaylon Smith, or character issues in the case of Randy Gregory, the Cowboys have foolishly taken one of their most valuable draft assets and used it more than half the time in that span on a player who had a lot more questions than answers surrounding him. When you're a team that consistently produces a winner and has established a culture of excellence, you can afford to take a gamble like this every now and again. But even a team like that would be foolish to gamble 4 times in 7 years with their 2nd round pick.

    But when you look at how mediocre the Dallas Cowboys have been for the better part of 20 years now, it is mind-boggling how this organization could come to the conclusion that they could afford to take these types of gambles so many times in that span. And when you also factor in that the defense has been bad for that entire time, it makes it even more inexplicable that they would continue to take this route given that they were in desperate need of immediate help on the defensive side of the ball.

    So when you look at each one of those 2nd round picks you see one success story in Sean Lee, although even in his case he's often hurt the team due to his nagging injuries and his inability to be counted on.

    A swing and a miss on Bruce Carter.

    An absolute disaster on Randy Gregory.

    And while it's still very early, Jaylon Smith looks awful and clearly isn't grasping what is happening on the football field and should be benched.

    That is 2 and possibly 3 misses out of 4 on prime picks that could have really helped the defense and the team as a whole if more logic was applied to the drafting process, and the organization was more aware of the situation they were currently living in. Even the Byron Jones pick leaves a lot to be desired. He isn't a terrible player, but he's not anywhere near being a Pro Bowl caliber player either. He was a CB at a program like UConn and yet the Cowboys thought that it was a good investment to take this player who wasn't even dynamic in college and convert him into a S and basically considered our ongoing issues with that position solved.

    Instead, to no surprise, our safeties remain a huge weakness and we are going on years of having some of the worst play at the position in all of football.

    So when you look at the gambles like the ones I just mentioned, is it any wonder why we haven't gotten the help we need from the draft? We keep using too many picks on gambles as opposed to solid and sensible investments.


    And that brings me to my next point.....

    Are these guys oblivious to what the Cowboys are and have been over the last 20 years? Because the way they draft at times, you get the impression that these guys operate as if we're this wildly successful franchise that has most of it what needs to be a winner. They don't go after players via the draft or FA in a manner which would suggest that they understand that this organization is in need of improvement.

    Is it arrogance? Is it stupidity? Is it denial?

    Why does this organization operate as if we're the New England Patriots and not a team that only has one instance of making the playoffs in consecutive seasons since the 2000's began?

    That's right, your Dallas Cowboys have only made consecutive playoff appearances once in the last 17 years -- 2006 and 2007.

    There are no guarantees in the draft. You can take a sure-fire guy with the very 1st pick in the entire draft and even he could go on to be a bust, but smart teams draft guys who give them the best chance to succeed and hit on a pick. Far too often over the last 7 years, the Cowboys have not drafted with this thought process in mind and it's one of the reasons why we can't get right on defense.

    Now let's look at Free Agency. I think we can all appreciate the Cowboys wanting to take a more frugal approach, but I never thought that frugal would then turn into penny-pinching.

    The last big signing we made was Brandon Carr in 2012. Since then, we have made no effort to sign any true difference-makers in FA. Yes, we took a shot on Greg Hardy but we only did so because we didn't have to break the bank due to the character issues that were surrounding the guy at the time. But other than that, we've made no real effort to get guys in here who could really help us.

    What we have seen from this organization is a very very slow.....probably TOO SLOW, of an approach to fix this unit.

    I think we all liked what they did in this past draft, but there needed to be more of that coupled with a signing here and there. Because this team keeps trying to slowly build the unit via the draft while also inexplicably ignoring both the DT and S positions for long stretches of time, we don't see the unit making any real strides from one season to the next. We don't have to go and spend 200 million in one offseason, but if this team is finally going to get some significantly improved play for the defense, they are going to have to understand that an offseason where 3 or more difference-makers are targeted and brought in via FA and the draft is necessary.

    The Giants had a horrible defense in 2015 but went all in to fix it the following offseason, and practically overnight, the Giants had one of the best units in the league. Now I'm not saying it's that easy, but I do think that if the Cowboys actually made it a point to bring in multiple guys in one offseason, we could finally start seeing some much improved play.

    It's time that the Cowboys stop dipping their toes in the water and just jump on in. They need to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to fixing the defense this upcoming offseason or it's going to be more of the same crap next year.

    It would also be nice if we could get a good DC in here as well, but that's another argument altogether.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Texas Ace; 10-09-2017 at 09:38 AM.
    2013 DCC Fantasy Football Champeen

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Rev's Avatar
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    There were quite a few years that they didn't have the money to spend on FA. Yes, that's their fault but I think they are headed the right direction now. Missing in the draft on that side of the ball has hurt the most.
    #Fire Garrett

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  5. #3
    Senior Member pdom's Avatar
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    You also could've mentioned trading up for Claiborne which also cost us the 2nd rounder. Saved ourselves from another 2nd round gamble with a bust.
    Last edited by pdom; 10-09-2017 at 10:16 AM.

  6. #4
    One-armed Knife Sharpener Iamtdg's Avatar
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    Well written, Ace. Spot on.
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  8. #5
    Senior Member p1_'s Avatar
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    only the Browns spend less on defense than we do.
    Romo's gone. Dak is the new boss.

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  10. #6
    Senior Member pdom's Avatar
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    I think a part of it is Jones holding onto Jimmy Johnson's philosophy.

  11. #7
    Teh Acester Texas Ace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdom View Post
    You also could've mentioned trading up for Claiborne which also cost us the 2nd rounder. Saved ourselves from another 2nd round gamble with a bust.
    That's another great example.

    We were not good enough to take that gamble and lose a 2nd rounder in the process.

    Had they approached it differently, we could have come away with 2 solid defensive contributors in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the draft.

    Instead, we ended up with one of the worst busts in team history.
    2013 DCC Fantasy Football Champeen

  12. #8
    One-armed Knife Sharpener Iamtdg's Avatar
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  13. #9
    Teh Acester Texas Ace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iamtdg View Post
    That's embarrassing.
    2013 DCC Fantasy Football Champeen

  14. #10
    One-armed Knife Sharpener Iamtdg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas Ace View Post
    That's embarrassing.
    Hell yeah, it's embarrassing. But, it holds to your point that we have done jack and shit to get this defense better. That's a 7 year span and we fucking DOUBLE the next team on the list. Holy hell, man.
    2016 DCC LOTY Fantasy Football Champion

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