IRVING, Texas – Hang around a defensive player long enough in the Dallas Cowboys locker room and there’s a good chance you’ll hear them get asked about the difference between current defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
While most note that both bring a lot of energy, one of the obvious differences mentioned has been that Kiffin conveys his message without swearing.
There’s also the obvious age difference. Ryan is 50 and Kiffin is 73.
On the field, Ryan’s 3-4 scheme is much more complex. Kiffin’s 4-3 base has less terminology and trickery, allowing a player like defensive end Anthony Spencer to focus more on rushing the passer and less on dropping into coverage.
“I think Rob had a lot more schemes for doing things,” Spencer explained, “and with [defensive line coach] Rod Marinelli and Kiffin, they’re more, ‘We’re going to beat them by doing the small things better than they do the small things. We’re really not going to try to scheme too much, we’re going to do the little things and try to beat them that way.'”
Even with Spencer coming off his best season as a pro, reaching the Pro Bowl, recording a career-high 11 sacks and leading the team in tackles with 95, he’s intrigued by the opportunity to line up with his hand on the ground and put an emphasis on getting to the quarterback.