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Getting Over The Hump - Monte Kiffin

Jon Gruden took the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl champions, in his first year as head coach. Was the coaching change the factor that made them champions?

Tony Dungy had been the head coach of the Bucs before Jon Gruden took over. Dungy had been a defensive coach for his career before being head coach. Jon Gruden had been an offensive coach before he became head coach. The change from Dungy to Gruden was more of a change from defensive coach, to offensive coach.

Since Gruden came in as an offensive minded coach, you would expect that the offense excelled, and that led to them becoming champions. Wrong. The offense stayed the same, if not it was a little worse.

So what was the difference? Monte Kiffin was the defensive coordinator under Tony Dungy in 2001, and fulfilled the same position under Gruden in 2002. The big difference between the 2001 Bucs and 2002 Bucs was that the defense went from being a back end top 10 defense, to a top 3, if not number 1, defense.

Tony Dungy leaving the Bucs left the defense completely to Monte Kiffin. The head coach was not defensive minded, so Kiffin became the defensive specialist. Kiffin took the defense "over the hump". The offense was fine as it was, but the defense becoming elite was what the team needed to reach the Promised Land.

The Dallas Cowboys can use the same thing. The offense has always been fine under Tony Romo and Jason Garrett, yet they find ways to lose. The Cowboys can be towards the top of the league in passing, yet they don’t make the playoffs. The defense can take this team over the hump as well.

It starts with the lack of turnovers forced by the Rob Ryan defense, and the level of confusion. If the defense gets back to fundamentals, lines up where they belong, and force turnovers, the defense can get over the hump.

If the defense can start scoring, and giving Tony Romo better field position, it takes the pressure off of him. The team can only benefit by getting over the hump on defense.

Monte Kiffin has a big job ahead of him, but if history repeats itself, he can take this defense to the level we think it can reach.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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