Sports Out West

Monte Kiffin’s age aside, former USC assistant is good fit for Dallas

Former USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will join the Dallas Cowboys’ coaching staff as the team’s defensive coordinator to replace Rob Ryan, the Cowboys announced on Friday. 

Kiffin brings a wealth of experience to Dallas as he began his NFL coaching career in 1983. He got his coaching start in 1966 as a graduate assistant at Nebraska. The 72-year-old will take over a team that struggled mightily in creating turnovers of late, finishing in the top 10 in interceptions only once over the past five seasons. He was the orchestrater of the famous “Tampa 2″ defense, which relies on team speed and quarterback pressure to create turnovers. 

He was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator for 13 seasons before leaving that post to coach with his son, Lane, at USC. He resigned from the Trojans’ staff following the 2012 season in order to explore a return to the NFL. 

The Cowboys will need to improve their defense in order to live up to the ever-present hype that exists in Big D surrounding the team. Much like the Los Angeles Lakers out West, the entire fan base is vested in the team’s every move. 

It’s a good fit, though, because Kiffin brings strength where the Cowboys are weak, namely in getting off the field. Clearly, that was the thinking in the hiring process and age was not a factor. Nor should it be if he can bring the same type of product to Dallas as the feared Tampa Bay defense had during his tenure. He was on the staff that led the Bucs to the 2002 Super Bowl victory against the Oakland Raiders, who Lane Coached for a brief stint from 2007-2008. 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.