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Scouting The Dallas Cowboys: Defense has a different look

The Dallas Cowboys have changed their defensive philosophy entering the 2013 season.

Monte Kiffin
Monte Kiffin
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are very few surprises between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. They are veteran teams who face each other twice every season. There will, however, be one big difference in the Dallas team the Giants face Sunday. The Cowboys have scrapped their 3-4 defense in favor of the 4-3.

Yes, the Cowboys have gone retro on defense. Out with Rob Ryan and the 3-4 defense that more and more teams seem to like to combat the read option and pistol offenses invading the NFL. Shoot, even the Giants have experimented with some 3-4 throughout the preseason. For the Cowboys, though, it's in with the 4-3, specifically with 73-year-old Monte Kiffin and the Tampa 2 style 4-3 defense he popularized with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the late 1990s.

The biggest switch personnel-wise on the Dallas defense has star DeMarcus Ware going from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 defensive end.

"I think it's going to make us more aggressive. That's one thing that we needed. We always harp on turnovers; we weren't big on turnovers last year," Ware said during the summer. "This defense is really predicated on effort and making it simple, but having the guys really get after it, and use their athleticism to make big plays."

Dallas was 30th in the league last season, averaging only one takeaway per game.

"They've got talented players on their defense, their scheme will be very sound and let their athletes run. We've got to go back and look at some old film, some old Tampa stuff, some USC stuff, we have a lot of different film to look at," Giants' quarterback Eli Manning said. "Obviously if you look at the preseason games, we kind of see what he's done in the past so you have a little idea of what they're going to do, what some of their blitzes and things might be."

Dallas played well defensively in the preseason, surrendering 93 points in five games (18.6 points per game) and earning a +30.2 score from Pro Football Focus. Will that carry over into Sunday night vs. the Giants?

"We have to go in there and play our best football and see what they’re going to do defensively," Manning said. "I’m sure they’re going to have a few wrinkles that they haven’t shown in preseason but we should be able to adapt to whatever they throw at us and be prepared and go out there and play well."

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