Cowboys' defense on pace for historic worsts under Kiffin

Cowboys' defense on pace for historic worsts under Kiffin

Credit: Getty Images

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 13: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins scrambles with the ball against Bruce Carter #54 of the Dallas Cowboys on October 13, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys beat the Redskins 31-16. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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by JOE TRAHAN

Bio | Email | Follow: @joetrahan

WFAA Sports

Posted on October 30, 2013 at 10:45 AM

VALLEY RANCH -- After getting mauled by the Lions - surrendering a franchise-worst 623 yards - the Dallas Cowboys defense now ranks 32nd and dead last in the NFL.

"From a pass-defense standpoint, we can't give up that many yards and that many plays," said head coach Jason Garrett.

"We let them score, we let them move the ball," said linebacker Sean Lee, "and at the end of the game, when we have a chance to win, we give up a bunch of big passes again and that's unacceptable."

Unacceptable, yes, but surprising, absolutely not.

Take a look at the numbers below. They show how the Cowboys have been torched through the air these season.

These are net passing yards:

        Week 1(Giants):     478 passing yards
        Week 4 (Chargers):     401 passing yards
        Week 5 (Broncos):     414 passing yards
        Week 8 (Lions):        480 passing yards

These numbers are significant because they're unprecedented. It's the first time in NFL history a team has given up that many 400-yard passing games in a season, and its only half-over. The Cowboys could double up the old record with the Saints' Drew Brees and the Packers' Aaron Rodgers on the upcoming schedule.

The defense is also wildly inconsistent, playing well against the pass in the other four games against passers that aren't as accomplished:

        Week 2 (Chiefs):     199 passing yards
        Week 3 (Rams):        197 passing yards
        Week 6 (Redskins):    217 passing yards
        Week 7 (Eagles):    194 passing yards

Those numbers are acceptable, but far outweighed by the big numbers. And because of that, the Cowboys are on pace to give up 5,060 passing yards this year. That would be another NFL all-time worst.

When you're give up historically-bad passing numbers, the first finger of blame points at the secondary. And while there's certainly plenty of guilt to go around there, consider the lack of pressure up front as another culprit.

In the four 400-plus-passing-yard games the Cowboys have allowed, Dallas has averaged a little more than one sack -- 1.25 per game to be exact. In the four others, they racked up nearly four sacks a game -- 3.75 per game.

"We just gotta keep working," said defensive lineman Jason Hatcher. "It's not over. It's far from over. You wish you could roll back the hands of time, but you can't."

The plan for defensive improvement this season was built on staying healthy and implementing defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme. Halfway through the season, according to the numbers at least,  the plan needs some serious re-working.

E-mail jtrahan@wfaa.com

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