Is The Dallas Cowboys’ Defense Worse Than Last Year


Aug 23, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive back Tyler Patmon (far right) celebrates with teammates after catching a touchdown pass against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins won 25-20. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After watching the first three preseason games one thing has many Dallas Cowboy fans asking, “Is the defense going to worse than last year?” The question isn’t as easy as yes or no. While there have been glimpses of the defense being better at certain things, there is also appearances that the same problems that plagued the defense last year have stayed the same. I am not sure what the right answer is, but right now I think the defense could be worse, but I also think if a few things happen it could get better.

On the bright side of the defense there have been a few batted balls and I have seen more hands go up in passing lanes than I did last year. Last season I wrote many times that there seemed to be a lack of getting hands up into passing lanes by the defensive line. Nick Hayden had two batted balls in the second preseason game, and the fact that there were some batted balls actually got my attention since there were so few last season. There also seems to be an aggressiveness to some of the secondary that I didn’t see last year either, Ahmad Dixon and Tyler Patmon have been aggressive in hitting and trying to jump a route. I wasn’t so mad about the personal foul from Dixon, as I like seeing the aggressive hitting that will make a wide receiver think twice when he is near. Patmon seems to understand trying to get into the passing lanes and plays the ball and not the man, something else that seemed to be lacking last season. The last bright spot is it does seem that the linebackers are doing a slightly better job in coverage for the most part.

On the side that still scares me is the lack of pressure on the quarterback. While Zach Minter has gotten some pressure as a team it is inconsistent. If this defense wants to create takeaways then they need the quarterback to feel pressed and make a mistake. There just does not seem to be any improvement at all on the defensive line when it comes to pressure. Another point is teams seem to be running all over the Cowboys. It is far too often that the RBs are getting to the second and third levels. If you can’t stop the run, play action is going to kill you. the last point I have seen is there still seems to be a lack of tackling. It seems like the first guy never stops the ball carrier and is more interested in trying to knock the ball out instead of wrapping up and not allowing forward progression to continue.

If this defense wants to be better they need to fix some of the issues of pass rush, tackling, and stopping the run. If they can get one or two of those fixed then the defense will have a better chance this year than they did last year. It is fine that they want to create more turnovers, but you are not going to get one on every play and sometimes you have to hold someone to a 3 and out. That is just as good as a turnover sometimes.

So the answer to the question isn’t a simple yes or no. I would expect this to be a hot topic throughout the season. I will say I would look for the Cowboys to scour the cuts from other teams and I think they are far from done on the roster. They need to get a pass rush specialist and a run stopper, both can be found in the cuts. I am not sure who they can find, but they can’t hurt this defense any more than it already is.