The Dallas Cowboys defense ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly all major defensive categories in 2020. Though a few moves have been made by Dallas this offseason to add low risk-high reward talent on that side of the ball, they’re still a few moves away from anyone having confidence this defense will be better in 2021.
Here are five things Dallas should do to improve their defense.
Sign Gerald McCoy
Dallas inked Gerald McCoy to a deal last offseason before a torn quadriceps tendon ended his first season with the Cowboys before their first regular season game.
However, McCoy offered something Dallas has sorely lacked since the days of Jason Hatcher – talent at defensive tackle. Sure, Maliek Collins and Tyrone Crawford had their flashes handling the interior of the line, but they were never consistent enough to open up lanes for the linebackers or remove focus off of DeMarcus Lawrence. Dallas needs talent at the defensive tackle position in order to keep their linebackers healthy and help Lawrence increase his pass rushing production.
Draft Patrick Surtain II
The overall consensus leans heavily towards Dallas adding the 6’2 Alabama corner to pair alongside former Alabama corner Trevon Diggs. Many analysts has speculated if Dallas will indeed take defense or will Jerry Jones become to mesmerized by former Florida Tight End Kyle Pitts.
However, Surtain can get this fan base going just as much as another offensive weapon could. Besides, when was the last time Dallas had two young corners you were genuinely excited to build around?
Sign Richard Sherman
After adding Surtain in the draft, the Cowboys will have a cornerback group of Surtain, Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown. Though Lewis and Brown are under new contracts, they don’t necessarily fit what Dan Quinn likes in his corners.
During that legion of boom era, Sherman, Brandon Browner, Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell were all over 6’1. Not only will Sherman add size to this cornerback group, but he’s an established veteran who has had success in the system Quinn will try to employ. Even if Sherman isn’t the shutdown corner of old, he still offers loads of knowledge he could translate to these younger corners.
Start Donovan Wilson
What shouldn’t be lost in Dallas’ attempt to rebuild this defense is how much a strong case Donovan Wilson made in the latter part of the season. On the surface, it would appear the signing of Keanu Neal could have a negative impact on how much playing time Wilson may get this year – especially with rumors of Jourdan Lewis and even Reggie Robinson possibly getting a look at safety.
However, Wilson should be the frontrunner for one of those starting spots. He’s already proven to be a more valuable asset in coverage than having Jaylon Smith on the field. So in a perfect world you leave Wilson back there and have Leighton Vander Esch with Neal serve as your nickel linebackers on passing downs.
Talent > Politics
The Cowboys have been linked to adding veteran linebacker K.J. Wright over the past few weeks though talk has died down as we come closer to the draft.
But if Dallas should sign one of Quinn’s former standout linebackers let the talent override the politics. Understandably, Jaylon Smith is on a new contract and Vander Esch is sort of in a prove it year before Dallas picks up his fifth-year option.
However, if the best combination of linebackers has either Smith or Vander Esch playing fewer snaps than so be it. Although LVE has shown his potential in coverage, there’s no denying how much of a liability Smith has been in that department.
It should be noted that Dallas has not added much pass rushing talent to the mix this offseason, so if Smith sees his role as a traditional linebacker lessen, there should be a role for him as an occasional edge rusher.
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