Dallas Cowboys valuing position flex amongst defensive backs

Daryl Worley (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Daryl Worley (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Something that’s becoming quite clear about the new-look Dallas Cowboys D, is the blurred lines between safety and cornerback…

With the coaching regime change this offseason, no one knew exactly how much the defense was going to evolve under Mike Nolan. The Dallas Cowboys let long-time defensive back fixtures Byron Jones and Jeff Heath leave in free agency and seemed to replace them with a handful internal and external options.

It’s becoming clear the Dallas Cowboys do not intend on seamlessly sliding another player into these vacated roles, but rather look to change the roles completely. Dallas appears to be taking more of a committee approach to defensive back this season. And that committee will likely be sliding back and forth between safety and cornerback fairly often.

Most serious football fans know positions and schemes aren’t purely black and white in the NFL. For instance, there’s not necessarily much of a difference between a 3-4 defense and a 4-3 defense. Scheme and individual responsibilities (1-gap vs 2-gap) are bigger differences than having a guy in a 2-point stance instead of 3-point stance.

In the same way the lines often blur between cornerback and safety. The boundary corners are easy to identify and to label, as is the deep free safety. But positional labels get jumbled up when we start looking inside.

Take Chidobe Awuzie‘s position switch, for example. When a potential move to safety was first mentioned by the Dallas Cowboys, fans were generally taken aback. It seemed like a big move for the three-year vet. But the reality is, safety isn’t that big of a move for Chido. That’s because being an in-the-box safety is a lot like cornerback.

Box safeties are just as likely to be in coverage as they are to be in run support. They match up with slot receivers, tight ends, and even running backs. They play some man coverage as well as some zone coverage. Most of the time they’re doing the same thing they did as cornerbacks. Just this time they’re playing inside.

Something we discussed over the weekend is how Chido is perfectly made to play safety because he’s at his best playing inside. Whether he’s a safety or a cornerback doesn’t really matter. It’s just a label.

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Same goes for new Dallas Cowboys DB,  Daryl Worley. On the books it says he played both cornerback and safety last year, and there’s a chance that will happen again here in 2020. But whether he does or not isn’t really that big of a deal. There’s even been talk of rookie CB Reggie Robinson being an option in some safety looks at some point as well.

The point is, the Dallas Cowboys loaded on long, strong, and versatile players in the secondary and can use a variety of players inside as box safety/cornerback hybrids. Why is this noteworthy? Because it breaks down artificial barriers that would otherwise keep the best possible DB combinations off the field.

It seems the Dallas Cowboys want to get their best defensive backs on the field as often as possible and to do that they intend on blurring some of the line between safety and cornerback.