Monte Kiffin agrees to become Cowboys’ defensive coordinator

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Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett wanted Monte Kiffin, and now they got their man.

Kiffin has agreed to become the Cowboys’ next defensive coordinator, ESPN’s Ed Werder reports.

As the guru of the Tampa 2 defense, Kiffin will surely bring in a dramatic departure from the schemes of the previous defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan. Kiffin will shift from a 3-4 front to a 4-3 front, and the Cowboys’ secondary will learn to play in a Cover 2 defense.

The question now is whether the Cowboys have the right personnel for that: DeMarcus Ware has become one of the NFL’s best pass rushers as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but now he’ll be shifted into a 4-3 defensive end. And the Cowboys made major investments in the cornerbacks last season, signing Brandon Carr to a free-agent contract and trading up to draft Morris Claiborne, but they made those investments with the idea that Carr and Claiborne were the right fits for Ryan’s defense, not for Kiffin’s.

So for Jones and Garrett, bringing in Kiffin is a gamble. If the gamble doesn’t pay off, expect even bigger changes in Dallas a year from now.

88 responses to “Monte Kiffin agrees to become Cowboys’ defensive coordinator

  1. This probably makes me sound like a complete, insensitive jerk, but it’s the elephant in the room — can a 72 year old coach still get through to today’s players and does he have the energy/intensity needed to keep up in the NFL today? Kiffin did a great job at Tampa Bay, but that seems like a long time ago.

  2. Brandon Carr was drafted by Herm Edwards to play the Tampa 2. So at least he fits.

    The rest? Eeek.

  3. Figured my comment from the speculative thread would fit better here:

    I hope far more stock was placed on Kiffin’s coaching with the Bucs as opposed to USC. The Bucs had a dominant defense for a decade plus, with a dozen pro bowl players and at least a few soon to be hall of fame members. Kiffin at USC; not so good, in fact, the defense was a flat out disappointment.

    As a Buc fan, I love the guy for really building that all time great Buc defense. It’s not often a style of defense becomes so successful and copied that it becomes named after the team who defined it (Tampa 2). I didn’t like how the team collapsed right around the time Kiffin announced he would join his son in the college ranks, but the man is and always will be a Tampa Bay legend.

    Welcome back, Monte.

  4. How would Brandon Carr and Morris Claibourne not fit into any defense at CB? I don’t get that. They’re big, physical, can run…what’s the limitation there that makes them not fit a scheme?

  5. Monte is 72, so what? He’s still younger than Pittsburgh’s DC is now and Marv Levy was when he was coaching.

    Also, he last coached in the NFL in 2008, a whopping 4 seasons ago. Big deal.

  6. I wonder who Kiffin will bring in from his coaching staffs part/current; and what players he will bring in; certainly this spells doom for the many injury-replacement players that came in October to shore up the defense who were simply there cause they had familiarity with Rob Ryan/system

  7. Sweet hire a 72 year old coach so we can change things up yet again in two years. See monte is a good guy, was a great d coordinator but more importantly is a guy who when the offense and special teams put the d in bad spots, ie turnovers or only putting up 20 points a game. they can blame monte and he’ll just take it. This team is a joke the owner is a joke the players are a joke the coaches are jokes and the biggest joke is that this team despite its lionesque record over the past 17 years is still America’s team. Well no more am I laughing you can have your lions 2.0 Jerry I’m gonna start putting my money and loyalties to a real team

  8. Packers should trade for ware! He’d team up great with clay on the other olb! Probably just a pipe dream for me though… Thompson thinks he can find better value with a 6th round extra tight end

  9. daysend564 says:
    Jan 11, 2013 1:44 PM
    Now just hope the old guy doesn’t die mid-season.

    Not a chance, Jerry Jones has way too much money to spend on doctors. Jones will be around for few more losing seasons

  10. People point to the personnel being wrong, but it could be argued that they are better suited for a 4-3 with smaller dlinemen and ware is not going to be there forever. Dallas’ 3-4 never really worked the way a 3-4 is supposed to work…never any pressure except for ware, unless Spencer decided to show up. The Tampa 2 focuses on turnovers rather than allowing yds, and our d has certainly already allowed plenty of yds so how can it get worse? The fans wanted change, well we got it. Teams have pulled off scheme changes before in a single season so this is not unheard of

  11. The bears showed there’s nothing wrong with having some good corners play the Tampa 2. But, if you can’t get pressure on the QB with you’re front four, you could have revis and deion covering people and it won’t matter. The best qbs eventually pick you apart.

  12. He did such a great job with the USC defenseNOT! He’s a natural. NOT! Ole Jerry must be getting dementia and needs someone he can relate to. Cowgirls are officially in free-fall.

  13. As if age has anything to do with this….Parcells, Coughlin, lebeau, seem to do OK yelling at players.

    That said, if JG doesn’t get an extension and fails to atleast make playoffs, appears everything is setup for Gruden to reunite with Kiffin.

  14. This might be more about Monte escaping the idiot he calls “son” more that about him becoming a NFL DC again. Best of luck Monte… Oh wait you’ll be working for JJ, never mind!!

  15. Kiffins success had more to do with having sapp,rice,brooks,barber and lynch than anything else. Anyone seen how usc has been getting demolished defensively since he got there?

  16. Not an issue, this is one of the easier packages to build in the league. Quality 3-4 players have gotten difficult to find because everyone who run the 3-4 is going after them.

    Not a lot of teams run the Tampa 2 so that good and many players who some teams would deem to small or not a proper fit would work great in this system.

    Conversion to the 4-3 under-shifted front should be a breeze, Ware won’t have a problem. There is a trend going on where teams are converting back to the 4-3 and the variations of it. 3-4 has just become so expensive to maintain.

    Jay Ratcliff will be a beast at the 3-tech! With Ware on the outside!

  17. Kiffin would’ve been a great choice to replace Wannstedt as DC 20 years ago. Does Jerry know what year this is?

  18. They originally offered the job to John Madden, but he turned it down so they went with somebody younger.

  19. ipeefreelyagain says:
    Jan 11, 2013 1:45 PM
    Boom! Look for D. Ware to be traded in the offseason. You heard it here first.

    I agree. I thought that it may happen before the start of last season. Now, I don’t get this hire. USC had some talent of defense and I didn’t see one game where the seemed to be a elite defense. Now, back to the draft. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Cowboys traded down and took the best QB availiable. I don’t think Romo escapes untouched

  20. Cowboys logic: Fire Rob Ryan for Tony Romo throwing to many picks in clutch situations, resolve that by hiring a 73 year old DC who runs the Tampa 2 that was successful a decade ago and hasn’t been useful since. Atta boy Jerruh Jownes.

  21. Another stupid move by Jerry Jones. Current personnel does not fit a Tampa 2 style defense. It protects weak corners. However, I think DWare is big enough to play DE…just have to look at Dwight Freeney and he played in a Tampa 2 almost his entire career.

  22. More idiocy from the football vacuum in Dallas.

    Not only does the personnel not fit Kiffin’s scheme, but exactly why is Kiffin so coveted? Before becoming Tony Dungy’s DC in Tampa, he was an absolute nobody in the NFL. That’s not a coincidence.

    After leaving behind Tampa (and the defense that Dungy put in place but somehow he gets credit for being the architect of), he proceeded to get destroyed in the Pac 12 college football conference week after week primarily by offenses that are becoming more en vogue in the NFL.

    So again, why exactly is anybody beating down Kiffin’s door? Good defensive play caller, that is if Dungy’s designed the defense. What exactly are you getting when you ask him to put it all together on his own? Ask USC fans, not much.

  23. He wasnt able to stop anyone at USC also if garrett gets fired after next season you really think the next head coach will want him not his own guy jerry you moron

  24. Now it all makes sense!! Jerry Jones must have read this…..

    “Possibly due to the mounting pressure on his poor coaching records, on November 29, 2012, Kiffin resigned from his position to pursue other opportunities in the NFL”

  25. First off. His age has nothing to do with it. Jim Johnson, God rest his soul, was an outstanding coach even at his older age. Dick Lebeau is 75 and still runs a great D. The Cowboys have the players to make this D work. Monte Kiffin will be a quiet no nonsense coach. And to make comparisions that he will not succeed due to his results at USC are just plain idiotic. 2 years with no recruiting. Ask Saban if Alabama would have continued success without the possibility to recruit for 2 years.

  26. normswifevera says:
    Jan 11, 2013 1:50 PM
    Brandon Carr was drafted by Herm Edwards to play the Tampa 2. So at least he fits.

    The rest? Eeek.
    ———————————————–

    Herm Edwards left the Chiefs in 2008 and the team went in a different direction on defense. Coincidentally, that’s the same year that Brandon Carr was drafted. But don’t let facts get in the way of a good story.

  27. Ware played D-end in college da why would you trade him so you are saying he cant do it he will be better in the 4-3

  28. The “Guru of the Tampa 2” sure as heck didn’t do us any favors at USC. Broke what was a solid defense AND saddled us with his son for God knows how long. Tanks fo’ nuttin’ Monte!!

  29. Cliff Avril looks like he is going to be hitting free agency this year, so that would be the second DT they need with Ratliff. Ware will be fine at DE and it isn’t like there aren’t a ton of pass rushing DE in the draft this year.

    The biggest concerns are going to be if Sean Lee coming back from injury is going to have the legs to run down the pipe, is there enough athleticism at safety and who’s going to be their WLB.

    Carr and Claiborne can cover in any system as well as they could in a 3-4.

  30. I’ll be honest, before the Cowboys showed interest in Kiffin I thought he was was overrated at this point in his career.

    He is a defensive genius, don’t get me wrong, but between his last year in Tampa and his failure at USC, he seems to be an average DC at best nowadays.

  31. The tampa 2 will only be successful if you have the front 4 putting pressure on the QB and if you have amazing LBs. Ask the Giants how the Tampa 2 defense worked this year when the front 4 couldn’t get the same pressure as last year.

    I don’t see how the Cowboy’s personnel besides Ware up front will make this a successful switch. It doesn’t matter if you have the best CBs in the world, if you don’t get pressure, the better QBs in this league today will eventually beat you.

    I guess only time will tell.

  32. Silliness. Of course the personnel fit the scheme. They fit it better than they fit the 3-4. Ware is bigger, faster, and stronger than Charles Haley was. Ratliff is faster, and stronger than Sapp. Lee, Carter, and Albright are perfect for the ‘backers. And there is nothing in the Tampa 2 defense that says the corners CAN’T play press instead of zone. If anything the T2 protects corners when they are not able to play press – and this time they don’t have to.

    I hope he brings in one of his guys to work closely with him so that in 3 or 4 years he can hand off the reins instead of starting over again.

  33. Kiffin’s last year at USC was hamstrung with loss of scholarships, injuries, and playing a powerhouse PAC-12. I put no credence in that one year as his inability to coach a pro team.

  34. Rob Ryan was given big upgrades in personnel last off-season, and didn’t do much with it at all.

    Interesting to see the Cowboys think their 2 CBs would be better in a Tampa 2 scheme, which is why they went for Kiffin.

    With the Tampa 2, the 2 deep safeties make it hard to complete anything deep, and the CBs can either play man or zone underneath, depending on the offense set, etc. It usually allows the CBs to do more against the run, and focus more on shorter routes, knowing the safeties are backing them up.

  35. See, in the 3-4 you have Ware reading every play to see if he should be backing out into coverage. As an OLB in a 3-4 he has to play LB and DE – does he drop, does he stay outide for the screen, does he rush the passer, does he close on the handoff. He won’t have as complex an assignment and that means he can be even more aggressive.

    Ratliff, a great pass rushing DL, has been used to tie up blockers. Now he gets to line up next to Ware and rush the passer. Whoever lines up next to him at DT will benefit from the attention Ratliff gets. The other DE has to be the run stopper, but can be substituted in passing situations.

    Plus, when offenses go to hurry up, we’ll have the benefit of players who can switch schemes much more easily if needed.

  36. 1. Dick LeBeau, best DC in football, is currently 76 years old.

    2. Anyone who judges this guy by his time at USC should pick another sport to watch, maybe tennis or something. You mean he wasn’t successful coaching the defense of a team that was sanctioned and without more than 25% of their scholarships? How many NFL caliber players was he coaching at USC exactly?

    3. Opposing QB’s should be very scared of the fact that Demarcus Ware will be coming on every play as opposed to being rendered useless and dropping back into coverage half the time.

    4. His defense plays a lot more man coverage than most people think and requires physical corners to jam at the line (exactly what you have in Carr & Claiborne)

  37. So now they become the cowgrandbabies. Too old, wrong move JJ. Should of hired him as GM instead of DC.

  38. Ratliff will be a BEAST in a 4-3 D. and D-Ware can get after the passer from any where. Remember Rice….undersized d end. Ware is bigger faster and stronger. I like the move…..a coach who doesn’t have to prove a thing. That was not the case with Rob.

  39. First off. His age has nothing to do with it. Jim Johnson, God rest his soul, was an outstanding coach even at his older age. Dick Lebeau is 75 and still runs a great D. The Cowboys have the players to make this D work. Monte Kiffin will be a quiet no nonsense coach. And to make comparisions that he will not succeed due to his results at USC are just plain idiotic. 2 years with no recruiting. Ask Saban if Alabama would have continued success without the possibility to recruit for 2 years.

    Haha. Who is the a$$ clown? 2 years of no recruiting means the future of USC is screwed, not the present. You think a bunch of freshman making a starting college defense squad. All you cowgirl fans are morons that know nothing about football. Hell, most of you idiots I talk to don’t know anything about your own team. Your team is absolutely just as big of a joke as my team has been. Too bad for u that is all over with for us (as long as our stud comes back), and your dark cloud has at least a decade of staying power. Morons.

  40. Nobody will care how old he is if he makes them better. There are good players all over that defense, they just need the right coach.

  41. @skinsrollyou,

    Seattle 24, Washington 14. Enough said.

    Your team was “beastified” by lynch, and you are obviously still butt-hurt about it. GET OVER IT.

    RGIII is good, but he is not the savior of a Franchise who has been FAR WORSE than any other team in the NFC East for quite some time.

    You are guilty of the golden rule, Fool: Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt.

    You have been pegged. Try again, but next time, try MUCH, MUCH harder.

  42. Cornerbacks that can cover can cover anywhere.
    Ware will be fine as DE. At 240+ he should be fine. Other DE’s have played at a lot less. Question is spencer. OLB in 4-3 need to be speedy course he is free agent.
    Ratcliff will love new 4-3 he is so not a NT.

  43. This article is horrible.

    1) Monte runs a lot more man coverage then what people think. His last few years in Tampa and his two years at USC he didn’t run a lot of the “Tampa 2”

    2) He runs a 4-3 Under, a defense he developed in the 70’s to stop the triple option and taught it to a number of successful DC’s and HC’s, namely Pete Carroll. Yes, it’s changed with the times but it’s still basically the 4-3 Under. Which is closer to using 3-4 personnel in a 4-3 look. And sometimes uses a player in the old SF 49ers “Elephant” position. It isn’t THAT MUCH of a departure.

    3) Rob Ryan played more zone this year then he did last year. To think that you’re going to exclusively play one coverage is silly.

  44. Good pickup by Dallas. Now they just need to get rid of Jason Garrett and they’ll be all set.
    As for their Roster being able to transform from the 3-4 to the 4-3… They should have no problem. Watt will be fine moving to the DE position, he may not get as many sacks, but he will be effective defending the pass and should be even better against the run. Claiborne and Carr should flourish in their new scheme. If they are still short starters after transforming, then the Draft is coming up, along with Free Agency. I personally thought they were doing pretty good with Ryan, but I guess Jones had to blame someone other than his “Golden Boy”, Garrett.

  45. franklamar says: Jan 11, 2013 1:53 PM

    Bad move for dallas,good move for all of the cowboy haters…teams will go up and down the field on dallas

    Sort of like your wife goes up and down on all Cowboys fans?

  46. whatnojets says: Jan 11, 2013 1:54 PM

    daysend564 says:
    Jan 11, 2013 1:44 PM
    Now just hope the old guy doesn’t die mid-season.

    Not a chance, Jerry Jones has way too much money to spend on doctors. Jones will be around for few more losing seasons

    @whatnojets….I think he was talking about Kiffin nimrod…

  47. Wow … didn’t really see that coming a week ago. I have great respect for the elder Kiffin as a defensive coach, but this still seems like a huge gamble for a small potential gain. Dallas had in Wade Phillips one of the best DCs in the business. The Cowboys had in Rob Ryan one of the best DCs in the business. I don’t think the defense is the problem.

    And those comparing Kiffin at 72 to the Steelers’ Dick LeBeau at 75 are overlooking a couple of things. For one, LeBeau has been in place for nine years, and the Steelers have finished the regular season #1 in total defense four of the last six years. His players know his system. He has an heir apparent in linebackers coach Keith Butler and another defensive colleague in head coach Mike Tomlin. He doesn’t have to install a new defense under the direction of an offensive-minded head coach and a meddlesome owner. LeBeau’s not under the same stress Kiffin will be under in Dallas.

    Then again, after spending the last few years with Lane, Monte may find Jerry downright relaxing.

  48. This team should not be called the Dallas Cowboys. The name should be changed to the Jerry Jones Vanities. Not only should he call every shot as the general manager, he should also be the head coach and get on the field and play the position of all 11 players.

  49. I have great respect for the elder Kiffin as a defensive coach, but this still seems like a huge gamble for a small potential gain. Wade Phillips and Rob Ryan are two of the best defensive coaches in the business. I don’t think defense is the problem in Dallas.

    And those comparing Kiffin at 72 to the Steelers’ Dick LeBeau at 75 are overlooking a couple of things. LeBeau has been in place nearly a decade. His players know his system. He has an heir apparent in linebackers coach Keith Butler and a defensive colleague in head coach Mike Tomlin. He doesn’t have to install a new defense under the direction of an offensive-minded head coach and a meddlesome owner. LeBeau’s not under the stress Kiffin will face in Dallas.

    Then again, after spending the last few years with son Lane, Monte may find working for Jerry Jones downright relaxing.

  50. Hahahaha jerryjones is f-n nuts! Lmfao… Cowboys fans should have stood up a long time ago… Oh wait, cowboys fans are are illegals- they don’t like standing up in crowds.

  51. a good coach will adjust his defense to one which the level of his personnel will be able to handle. that being said every junior high school program in the country runs a cover 2 defense, enuff said.

  52. Good lord. Isn’t the idea to hire someone because they were such a smashing success at their last stop?

    Cue the Jethro Tull:

    Oh, no, we won’t give in
    We’ll keep living
    In the pa -ast.
    .
    .
    .

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