Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com
IRVING, Texas — Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s search for solutions includes taking suggestions from owner and general manager Jerry Jones.
In the wake of the Cowboys’ 45-28 loss to the Chicago Bears on Monday night, Jones publicly opined that the Dallas defense needed to “take more risk” with blitzes in an attempt to get pressure on the quarterback and create turnovers.
“Jerry’s right,” Kiffin said Wednesday. “Good golly, you’ve got to change it up, you’ve got to come after them. You can’t let that quarterback stand back there all day. There’s no doubt about it.”
The 7-6 Cowboys, who are a game behind the Philadelphia Eagles for first place in the NFC East, rank last in the NFL in total defense (426.8 yards per game) and passing defense (298.5 yards) and are allowing the 26th most points (26.8).
Turnovers are the one positive statistic for Kiffin’s defense this season. Dallas is tied for fifth in the league with 25 turnovers forced but didn’t have any against Chicago, which scored on every one of its offensive possessions until kneeling in the final seconds.
Chicago was fifth opponent this season to rack up at least 490 yards and 30 points against the Cowboys. Dallas has a total of four sacks in those five losses. No other defense has allowed more than two such outing in 2013.
The pitiful performance against the Bears prompted Jones to call for change immediately after the game, although he expressed confidence in Kiffin’s ability to fix the Dallas defense.
“I think the hope is in turnovers,” Jones said. “We’ve got to probably involve more risk. This is just Coach Jones talking here – I say this tongue in cheek – but we’ve got to take more risk and get more turnovers and give us a chance to get more possessions.”
Kiffin, 73, who returned to the NFL after spending four seasons working for his son Lane at the college level, indicated significant changes would be implemented this week against the Green Bay Packers but was vague about details.
“We’re not stubborn,” Kiffin said. “‘Boy, I tell you one thing, I tell ya, this thing’s going to work, I tell you right now.’ You don’t do that as a coach. That’s being a stubborn coach. We won’t do that. We’re looking at things.”
One of those changes will not be Kiffin ceding play-calling duties to defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, who coordinated a top-five-ranked defense that led the league in turnovers last season with the Bears before leaving Chicago out of loyalty to fired head coach Lovie Smith.
“Hadn’t really thought about that,” Kiffin said. “I would say that would be kind of like a player [saying], ‘Let’s throw it in, let’s throw in the towel.’ Like telling your players, ‘Don’t play that hard anymore. Let’s give it up.’ It ain’t happening.”
Asked if he believed he was the right man to get this defense turned around, Kiffin said, “I don’t know. I’m here right now. I’ve got to be the right guy right now. I can’t get into all that.”
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