The Dallas Cowboys spent the better part of the last few seasons trying to have their secondary emulate the one that the Seattle Seahawks made famous in the “Legion of Boom”. Kris Richard was brought in to help do that, and ultimately, he did not.
Richard was the Cowboys secondary coach in title but also was their pseudo defensive coordinator in partnership with Rod Marinelli. Mike McCarthy brought in Mike Nolan to run the defense during his first year with the team and, four games in, the results aren’t too promising.
We are obviously talking about the Dallas Cowboys and the amount of confidence in the team seems to swing massively with each win and each loss (as evidenced by SB Nation Reacts data). This year feels a little bit different, though. While the season is young there are many people who seem ready to make a permanent decision in terms of the defensive side of the ball and how it is ran.
Richard Sherman thinks the Cowboys might benefit from a less complicated defensive scheme
Much of the conversation in the aftermath of the Cowboys’ latest loss has been about the defensive scheme. As it is new it is fair to question what Mike Nolan is offering given that the team is literally off to one of the worst defensive starts in franchise history. What else would there be to question?
On the subject of Richard and the Cowboys secondary, somebody who knows a thing or two about success back there is another Richard, Richard Sherman. The public face of the Legion of Boom has a new podcast with Cris Collinsworth and on the latest episode was asked about Mike Nolan’s defensive unit in Dallas and how impossible it would be to change coordinators in the middle of the season and expect better results.
“Well I can’t say I’ve heard of it often. I’m sure it’s possible. Like they’ve talked about, his scheme is so complicated. It’s so variable. It’s so diverse. People think that means good defense, and it doesn’t. You don’t have a foundation, you don’t have an identity, so you have nothing to fall back on.”
“So when things aren’t going great it’s not like you have, ‘Hey, we can put the fire out with this. We’re going to run this until we get things under control.’ It’s just like a patchwork of, ‘Hey we’re going to keep throwing things at the wall and see what sticks.’ When you have that as a player then you’re like okay so, you don’t even know how we’re getting attacked.”
“Are we getting attacked as a cover 2 defense? A man to man defense? A quarters defense? A cover 3 defense? Like how are they attacking us because we’re in so much nonsense.”
“I don’t know if changing the coordinators changes the way they run that playbook, but if you change coordinators and they go back to foundational fundamentals of running a certain defense then I think they’ll have better results. But who am I?”
There are many people who point to the surface-level parts of football as innovations and things that they do well, but the game is obviously about more than cosmetics. Sherman has a great point in that being complicated/variable/diverse isn’t necessarily a good thing just because it all sounds complicated.
Not to cause even more panic, this feels oddly reminiscent of Rob Ryan’s defense with the Cowboys. It is fair to wonder whether the plan of things is too complicated either due to the math of it all or the lack of talent able to execute it. Either way it would behoove the Cowboys to potentially simplify the execution of it all in order to yield the results that we all want.
Football is a complicated game. Perhaps the Cowboys defense is not able to execute a defense that is potentially more complicated than the one they’ve been in, even if on paper it should produce better results.
Dallas plays host to the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon. The G-Men have scored three touchdowns in four entire games this season. Meanwhile the Cowboys have surrendered three touchdowns in the first half of each of their last three games.
Which will break first?