Keep it simple, stupid. That's what the Dallas Cowboys are finally doing with the hiring of Monte Kiffin to replace Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator. A talented defense that was often lost in Ryan's nuanced schemes will now have a chance to ditch the bells and whistles and just play football.
That's one reason why this could wind up being a very positive move in Dallas. The Cowboys have the ideal personnel to switch from the 3-4 to the 4-3 and have the types of players that can succeed in Kiffin's Tampa 2 scheme.
If need be, the switch will make it easier for the 'Boys to part with impending free agent Anthony Spencer, who is very talented but is slated to fetch an eight-figure salary. We all know DeMarcus Ware will have no problem with his hand in the dirt, and that line could be stacked with Jason Hatcher moving inside to team with Jay Ratliff and others.
Drawing from Kiffin's long run of success with the Bucs, the Cowboys have the types of guys who can step into the key roles played by Warren Sapp (Hatcher, Ratliff and Sean Lissemore) and Derrick Brooks (Bruce Carter and Sean Lee).
The point is that this D is already talented enough to perform at or near the level the Bucs did defensively when Kiffin ran the show there.
In 13 years with the Buccaneers, Kiffin's defenses finished in the top 10 in points 12 times and in the top five six times. They also finished in the top five in takeaways on five occasions and helped get the Bucs to the playoffs seven times, winning the Super Bowl in 2002.
He simply got the job done year in and year out. And even when that D started to lose its luster late in his time there, they still finished in the top 10 in points and yards in each of his final two seasons.
Kiffin becomes the second-oldest assistant coach in the NFL, but this team wasn't really looking for an unproven up-and-comer. The 'Boys are in a position to take off, and now they have someone who has shown that he can get results time and again.
I don't care that he's 72, he still apparently has great energy. And I don't care that things didn't pan out at USC. The Trojans were hindered by NCAA sanctions and Kiffin had a nearly impossible task while running that defense for his son's program.
The chips were stacked against him at USC, but now the odds are back in his favor. Had Kiffin not bailed on the NFL four years ago to join his son in the college ranks, he'd have been one of the hottest candidates on the market.
Instead, he faded from the public eye at the NFL level and became somewhat of a forgotten man. With that in mind, this could be quite a coup for a Cowboys team that might have found one of the best under-the-radar coordinator candidates the league has had in some time.