Jason Garrett: Dallas Cowboys could match DeMarcus Ware against Justin Pugh

Layne Murdoch

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett fielded questions during a conference call on Wednesday

Defense has been a focus in Dallas this offseason. The Cowboys have switched coordinators, moving away from Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme and implementing the proven Tampa 2 under Monte Kiffin.

Kiffin left USC where he coached along his son, Lane Kiffin, to return to the professional ranks and revamp the 'Boys D, one that was in need an overhaul following a disappointing 2012 season.

"We've been a 3-4 team for a number of years, and a lot of the guys who have been here have been in that style of defense maybe throughout their whole career," Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said during a conference call Wednesday. "Monte Kiffin is one of the great coordinators ever in the NFL, and having a guy like Rod Marinelli -- those are two really good guys to implement the scheme ... It's a work in progress like everything at this time of year, but we're excited to get a chance to play in a ball game."

Defense has also been a focus for other reasons. The Cowboys are coming off a season in which they totaled just seven interceptions, which was tied for a league-worst mark.

This year, generating those turnovers is a point of emphasis, as Garrett calls it the "most critical stat in football."

"If you go back the last 100 years, (turnovers) are the most revealing statistic year in and year out in terms of its correlation to winning and losing games," he said. "It directly impacts the amount of points the offense is going to score because the field position it creates ... so it essentially is taking away an opportunity from them and giving you an addition opportunity, and when you do that on a consistent basis, you're going to win a lot of games."

Adding insult to injury -- literally -- there is no guarantee defensive end Anthony Spencer will suit up for the Sunday night opener against the New York Giants.

Garrett said Spencer's status remains up in the air and how much he can do in practice will be a determining factor to whether he plays on Sunday.

Onto another defensive end, DeMarcus Ware -- Garrett would not say how he'll use his All-Pro pass rusher, but did not rule out moving Ware to match up against the Giants' rookie right tackle, Justin Pugh.

"We'll come up with a plan and try to figure out what the best matchups are," he said. "(Pugh) is a highly regarded rookie who was taken in the first round and was a pretty darn good playing coming out, so we have a real healthy respect for everyone on the Giants, particularly that offensive line."

Follow Sam on Twitter @SamSpiegs

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