If Cowboys move to a 4-3 defense ...

January, 8, 2013
1/08/13
9:08
PM ET
IRVING, Texas – Last week we broached the possibility of the Cowboys moving to a 4-3 as part of the “unconventional move,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones alluded to on his KRLD-FM radio show.

Now comes word from Jason Garrett in a statement regarding Rob Ryan’s dismissal about a “move forward in a different direction philosophically on defense,” which seems to indicate the Cowboys will be moving to a 4-3 base defense.

So where do the Cowboys turn for their next defensive coordinator if they move to a 4-3?

Monte Kiffin resigned at Southern Cal last month with the hopes of returning to the NFL. He is a 4-3 master, using the Tampa-2 scheme that has been used all over the league. He had a tremendous run in Tampa Bay with players such as Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, Ronde Barber and John Lynch.

Dave Wannstedt was Buffalo’s defensive coordinator last season. He was not helped by a turnover-prone offense and an ineffective Mario Williams. There are obvious ties to the Cowboys from his time with Jimmy Johnson in the early 1990s. He helped direct some top defenses in Miami as well that featured aggressive cornerback play.

Lovie Smith learned from Kiffin, coordinated a Super Bowl defense in St. Louis and had a long run in Chicago. The Bears defenses forced a ton of turnovers in his tenure, including five Tony Romo interceptions last October. He is a head coaching candidate in Philadelphia and possibly San Diego.

The Cowboys have been a base 3-4 team since 2005 but have not abandoned the 4-3 with their sub package work either under Bill Parcells, Wade Phillips or Ryan.

As noted last week, a move to a 4-3 might not be too difficult and might be necessary if the Cowboys cannot afford to keep outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. DeMarcus Ware would simply be in a three-point stance all the time (as could Spencer if they kept him). Jay Ratliff could move to defensive tackle with Jason Hatcher. They like Tyrone Crawford’s potential.

At linebacker, Sean Lee can play middle and Bruce Carter can play the weak side. They would need a strong-side linebacker but perhaps Alex Albright could get in the mix there as well.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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