The Cowboys last used the 4-3 defense in 2004.
The Dallas Cowboys ran different versions of the 4-3 between 1960 and 2004. In fact, Tom Landry developed the 4-3 that became prevalent throughout the league.
When Jimmy Johnson became head coach in 1989, he retained the 4-3 but discarded the flex defense that Landry had used for many years. Johnson’s defense relied on speed more than size. The Cowboys continued to use a version of this 4-3 until the third year of Bill Parcells‘ tenure.
Since 2005, Dallas has run the 3-4, which features larger linemen and larger linebackers. The Cowboys have spent a number of draft picks trying to find inside and outside linebackers as well as defensive linemen to fit the system.
Trivia question for the day: who were the last defensive linemen drafted when the Cowboys still used the 4-3?
Here’s a hint: The Cowboys did not draft a single defensive lineman between 2002 and 2004.
* * *
More about the Cowboys’ use of the 4-3:
In 2004, the Cowboys’ starters along the defensive line included DE Greg Ellis, DE Marcellus Wiley, DT Leonardo Carson, and DT La’Roi Glover. Glover moved to nose tackle in 2005, while Ellis remained at end. Ellis then moved to outside linebacker in 2006.
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Coaching Staff: Rod Marinelli Reunites With Monte Kiffin
49ers and Ravens Have Much to Teach the Dallas Cowboys
NFL Draft 2013: Listening In To The Draft Show
Twitter mailbag: New defensive alignments