While some – including Cowboys owner Jerry Jones – delight in debating whether or not Deion Sanders could shut down Calvin Johnson, I’m more concerned that Monte Kiffin had no clue how to do it.
Granted, Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL and proof that, no, not all men are created equal. Even the speedy, athletic Sanders couldn’t cover him, much less tackle him. But Kiffin’s shoddy schemes against the Lions’ No. 1 target was as maddening as it was confounding.
On Detroit’s game-winning drive Kiffin had as his safeties Jeff Heath (in for injured J.J. Wilcox) and Jakar Hamilton (in for injured Danny McCray, who was in for injured Barry Church). That’s not an excuse for what happened, but it’s a pretty valid reason. Covering Megatron is tough enough. Doubling him with a rookie free agent (Heath) and a guy just 24 hours off the practice squad (Hamilton) is impossible.
In even more defense of Kiffin, his defensive line sacked Matthew Stafford once in 50 dropbacks. So, yes, his options were limited. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and with Johnson rolling toward the second-best receiving day in NFL history (329 yards) I just didn’t see anything cunning or clever from the Cowboys’ venerable defensive coordinator.
Johnson was like vintage Shaquille O’Neal, just setting up shop on the low block and bullying his way to the hoop. Against solo coverage, both are unstoppable. So why did the Cowboys – more often than not – leave Brandon Carr to shadow Johnson one-on-one?
Said Johnson of Dallas’ coverage, “It’s crazy, shoot, I mean, we got one-on-one coverage and were able to hit on it a lot.”
Echoed Carr, “It was challenging, we never had an answer for him. That’s the guy they kept feeding and keep feeding. We just didn’t adjust quick enough to take him out of the game.”
Without DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff and with Morris Claiborne gimpy and Church and Wilcox sidelined, the Cowboys are not a talented defensive unit. In fact, right now they are one of the worst defenses in the league, which further proves how bad the Eagles’ offense has become doesn’t it?
The Cowboys forced four takeaways in Detroit, and still somehow managed to surrender 623 yards, 24 fourth-quarter points and lose a football game.
Somewhere on Bourbon Street, Rob Ryan is smiling.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.