The Dallas Cowboys will enter the season as a top-10 defense, but it needs to add a final piece to the puzzle.
The Dallas Cowboys defense took a step in the right direction last season featuring a top-10 defense that brought major pain to opposing offenses. For the first time in almost forever the Cowboys were one of the most feared teams in the NFL proving to be capable of stopping an elite offense.
All Pro quarterback Drew Brees and his high-flying New Orleans Saints offense found out the hard way that the Cowboys defense was for real. The Cowboys defense stifled Brees, shut down the Saints running game, and laid the wood on every offensive weapon that touched the ball. Remember the hit Jaylon Smith put on running back Alvin Kamara? The one that made him woozy?
The Cowboys held the Saints high-octane offense to 10 points and Brees threw for 127 yards, one touchdown, an interception and finished with a 71.6 quarterback rating. The reason why Dallas won that game had more to do with its charged-up defense than anything else.
The key stop in that game happened with an interception from defensive back Jourdan Lewis that sealed that sealed Dallas’ upset victory. That game was the turning point for this dominant defense as it became one confident bunch moving forward.
As good as Dallas’ defense played in that game and all of last season, it lacked one important ingredient that all elite defenses need: turnovers.
If Dallas is to make a Super Bowl run, the defense has to create more turnovers to take this team to the next level.
Yes, it has a sack artist/war daddy in DeMarcus Lawrence (10.5 sacks last season) and a newly acquired edge rusher Robert Quinn. But while having elite pass rushers will make Dallas’ defense lethal, forcing turnovers is what affords this team’s offense more opportunities to score and dominate TOP (time of possession).
If Dallas’ defense can convert a fumble/interception into touchdowns on a regular basis, this team will be formidable.
How bad is it?
During the 2018 season, Dallas’ defense recorded nine interceptions, and one of those came from a defensive lineman (Tank Lawrence). Further, Dallas’ defense forced 13 fumbles and recovered 11. If you’re keeping count, Dallas only had 20 takeaways.
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Compare that to the Chicago Bears defense 36 takeaways (27 interceptions, 9 fumbles) and you can see why they won 12 games and the NFC North Division. The Bears had a +12 differential in take-aways and give-aways.
Dallas had +3 in take-aways and give-aways-explaining to some degree why most of their games were close last season. In all of Dallas’ six losses, four of those losses were by 10 points or less. And two of those losses were by 3 points. With more turnovers, there’s the possibility Dallas could have finished the season easily with 12 wins instead of 10.
But with a more experienced and opportunistic defense on the horizon in 2019, Dallas can cash in and win more games, and take opponents out early with big leads. And when opposing teams fall behind early, they feel the pressure, panic, and pass more-which leads to more sacks and eventually more turnovers.
If the defense can force more turnovers, that’s more touches for Ezekiel Elliott and more receptions to Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, Michael Gallup, Tavon Austin, and Jason Witten. Someone is bound to score a few more touchdowns. The more possessions for Dallas’ offense the more chances for this team to win games. Period
Of course, if Dallas’ defense can take a turnover to pay dirt, then that’s an added bonus. Now let’s make it happen because this team is desperate to win another Lombardi trophy. And that starts with the defense.
- Published on 06/20/2019 at 12:45 PM
- Last updated at 06/20/2019 at 12:55 PM