'Philosophical Change' to 4-3 Makes Sense for Cowboys

Jonathan BargerContributor IJanuary 8, 2013

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 21:  Rob Ryan of the Dallas Cowboys during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 21, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Tuesday evening, Rob Ryan was given his walking papers by the Dallas Cowboys (Courtesy ESPN Dallas). Jason Garrett released a statement wishing Ryan the best of luck—adding that the Cowboys were looking to move in a different direction philosophically.

This philosophical change could mean switching to a 4-3 defense instead of a 3-4 defense.  The Cowboys have the personnel, as Sean Lee or Bruce Carter could play the inside linebacker positions, but off-the-street signing Ernie Simms could be an excellent candidate for an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense because of his sideline-to-sideline speed and coverage ability.

On the defensive line, the Cowboys are set as well.  With the 3-4 requiring strong, athletic lineman to play a defensive tackle/defensive end hybrid, the Cowboys would have a devastating rotation.  At ends, the Cowboys are set with DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, although Spencer might be a cap casualty to free agency. 

Even if Spencer becomes a casualty, the Cowboys have Jason Hatcher and Kyle Wilbur, who could fit the mold.

The unique requirements to be a defensive end in a 3-4 defense creates an unusual and welcome problem should the Cowboys switch to a 4-3.  Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher, Tyrone Crawford and Jay Ratliff can all play in the interior and cause havoc with their quickness.  

If there are any questions about quickness over brute weight and strength, remember the game at Cowboys Stadium several years ago against the Tennessee Titans—the entire Titans defensive line caused Leonard Davis to leave some laundry on the field.

Having quality depth on the defensive line is key, as it keeps fresh bodies in a constant rotation. The Giants did won two Super Bowls with a deep rotation on the defensive line, and Jimmy Johnson had a similar rotation during his Super Bowl runs in the early '90s.

Right now this philosophical change is just speculation, as whomever the Cowboys hire for the vacant defensive coordinator position will run the best scheme to fit his personnel.  

Maybe the philosophical change is from a defensive coordinator that demands turnovers.  Lovie Smith is on the open market and would bring a welcome upgrade in the turnover department. Tony Romo knows all too well about turnovers to the Bears—he committed five of them on Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears this year.

Perhaps the major changes that Jerry Jones promised aren't done. There could be more to come to make everyone feel "uncomfortable" (Courtesy NFL.com).