How about a Cowboys' move to a 4-3?

January, 4, 2013
1/04/13
10:28
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IRVING, Texas – What is Jerry Jones talking about when he mentions doing something “almost unconventional,” in attempting to shake the Cowboys from their 16-year state?

It would be nice to get to talk to the owner and general manager, but he’s not been around Valley Ranch since the season has ended.

So let’s raise some possibilities:

Change the general manager? We know that answer.

Change the head coach? He has backed Jason Garrett all season. And if he is waiting this long to make a move with the coach, then the Cowboys could be last in line when putting together coaching staffs. So, no, Garrett, isn’t the change.

Change the guys who call the offense and defense? Maybe, but I’m wondering if it goes a little deeper than just the play callers, especially on defense. Maybe it’s the scheme.

Could the Cowboys scrap the 3-4 and become a 4-3 team in 2013?

The Cowboys moved to the 3-4 in 2005.

Truth be told the Cowboys played a lot of 4-3 in 2012 because that’s their sub package defense with DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer putting their hands on the ground. They also mixed in more 4-3 base looks when they had five linebackers on the field. The only difference was that Ware and Spencer didn’t line up in a three-point stance.

Would it be a difficult move?

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Maybe not so much, but the return of Spencer should play a part in a switch. It will be difficult for the Cowboys to keep him off the open market with a new deal, and placing the franchise tag on him for the second straight year could be too prohibitive.

The Cowboys would have to upgrade their defensive line. Ware, Jason Hatcher, Tyrone Crawford and Sean Lissemore are the only guarantees. Maybe a move to a 4-3 would benefit Jay Ratliff, but his future is in some question because of the cap.

At linebacker, they would have two of the three with Sean Lee (middle) and Bruce Carter (weak). Maybe they keep Ernie Sims and move Lee to the strong side.

The secondary doesn’t much change with the fronts, but I can’t see the Cowboys becoming a Tampa-2 team with corners like Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. They are at their best playing press coverage, jamming receivers. Tampa-2 corners play off and soft mostly with their eyes on the quarterback.

Coordinator Rob Ryan has a 3-4 background, but he’s coached enough 4-3 while here.

It would be an unconventional move.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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