Obviously, bringing in Rob Ryan alone was not enough to make the Cowboys defense championship caliber. After watching the boy’s languishing D last year here are the 5 steps they can take to give Rob the tools he needs to create a championship D.
1. Sign Brandon Carr FA from the KC Chiefs.
Dallas has had a need at DB for a few years now. Mike Jenkins is talented but inconsistent. Terrance Newman’s body is just too old to compete with todays #1 or #2 WR’s. Dallas rolling the dice in late rounds has not resulted in hitting the lottery and finding a consistent DB so it’s time to pay the piper.
Carr is young, he will be 26 in May, he is consistent and has the size, 6′ 207 and speed to be a #1 cover corner. He also excels at man coverage and would fit will in Rob Ryan’s exotic blitzing scheme that often requires CB’s to face WR’s man up.
2. Improve Pass Rush
Luckily Dallas can accomplish this with existing personnel. Jay Ratliff has the size and speed to be a dominant DE unfortunately Dallas uses him as a NT. A traditional 3-4 NT is a 300+ pound road block. The NT takes up space and stuffs the middle of the line. Jay is simply too small to take on this roll. He has to some degree re-written what a NT can be by providing a pass rush up the middle but that is not what the scheme is designed for. Move Ratliff to DE and let him get after the passer.
3. Grab a real 3-4 NT
After moving Jay to DE Dallas will need to improve the NT position either in the draft or through FA. Paul Soliai is a 6’4″ 355lb FA NT from Miami that would be a huge upgrade to Dallas’ 3-4 defensive scheme. Soliai can eat up blockers and clog the middle allowing more one on one blocking for Ratliff at DE and Ware coming off the edge.
In the draft the Cowboys could have a few good options for NT in the first round. Dontari Poe would be an excellent draft pick for the Cowboys should he fall to them at 14. By now everyone has heard about his performance in the combine running a 4.87 40 at 346lbs. Poe appears to be a freakish athlete for his size.
Alameda Ta’Amu from Washington could also be an interesting pick that would probably not need to be taken with the Cowboys first round pick at 14. Ta’Amu is 6’3 348 ran a 5.37 40 and put up 225 35 times. He clearly has the size and strength to jump right in and upgrade the Boys at NT.
4. Improve the Safety Postion.
Michael Griffin FA from the Tennessee Titans would be another great grab for the Cowboys from the FA market. It looks like the Boy’s will be losing Abe Elam to free agency so picking up another quality S like Griffin (27 years old 5 seasons in the NFL) seems like a pretty obvious need.
5. Grab Aaron Maybin and let Spencer go.
Maybin is a former first round pick of the Bills in 2009 who has been slow to develop. He provided his best season last year with Rex Ryan’s Jets with 6 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. Maybin should be able to proved Dallas with as much production as Spencer at a lower cost with a higher upside potential. (Update: in a last minute move Dallas decided to go ahead and franchise tag Spencer at a cost of 8.8 million against next years cap. I personally believe this is another in a long line of mistakes by Cowboys management.)
Making these 5 moves should improve Rob Ryans pass rush, coverage and run stuffing abilities. These steps will also provide some youth to the Cowboys D allowing them to focus on other needs, like depth, going forward into the future.