The Monte Kiffin hire is beginning to sink in, and the mood has gone from "holy hell jerry jones is an idiot monte kiffin is 300 years old we have no players to run the tampa 2" to "maybe this hiring wasn't so bad after all the defense is simple and lee and carter are great fits and monte kiffin won a super bowl!"
Earlier today Rabble eloquently broke down the way in which Dallas's current personnel fits the Tampa 2 scheme, and vice versa. The conclusion: the fit is good, but there are some holes.
We can safely assume that the Cowboys scouting department is working ferveriously on a list of 4-3 draft prospects, and the team will look to fill many of their defensive needs in April's draft. It's also almost a forgone conclusion, now, that Anthony Spencer will depart, via free agency.
Six draft picks isn't going to be enough to fill the holes, necessary for a seamless transition to the Tampa 2, a scheme many Cowboys defenders haven't played before. The Cowboys don't have the cap maneuverability to land a guy like Henry Melton, or Jarius Byrd, in free agency. Instead, Dallas will have to look for potential Tampa 2 bargains, in Free Agency 2013. Here are two intriguing names:
I've read numerous places, that free safety, is the quarterback of the Tampa 2. As it stands, Dallas's opening day starter is either going to be Gerald Sensabaugh, Barry Church, Matt Johnson, or a rookie. Are you confident in any of those guys "quarterbacking" year one of the Tampa 2 in Dallas?
Enter: Ronde Barber
The veteran corner-turned safety will be 38 years old on opening night, so signing him is nothing more than A) a quick fix B) an extended coach, to help Dallas transition to the Tampa 2.
Don't you think Ronde, who played the 7th best Free Safety in football, according to PFF, would want to re-unite with Kiffin, for one last Super Bowl run? Who better to "quarterback" the defense than a guy who has been virtually playing in it his entire career, mostly with Kiffin as his coach.
Because of his relationship Kiffin, knowledge of the scheme, and oppurtunity to be on a contending team, Ronde could easily be lured to Dallas on a discount.
This almost makes too much sense not to happen.
Mike and Will are locked up with Lee and Carter, but Sam? As of right now, the two guys competing for the Sam linebacker spot in Kiffin's defense are Alex Albright and Kyle Wilber. Much like Matt Johnson and Barry Church, there's upside to be had with both Albright and Wilber, but are either ready to take on a full-time role? That remains to be seen.
In the meantime, a 30-year-old Daryl Smith is set to become a free agent, one year removed from rated as the second best 4-3 OLB in the NFL, according to PFF.
Unfortunately, Smith is coming off a season where he only appeared in two games, late in the season, for the lowly Jaguars. He was hampered by a groin injury all season, which probably cost him a lot of money, in what is likely to be his last big contract year.
Smith is another vet the Cowboys may be able to snatch up for cheap, on a one-year deal, as Smith tries to re-build his value after a lost season. Even if only as a one-year rental, Smith would be a stopgap for Albright and Wilber, giving them an extra year to learn the system.
Now we're talking about a starting 11 of:
Hatcher, Lissemore, Ratliff, Ware, Cartr, Lee, Smith, Carr, Claiborne, Barber and Church.