Dallas Cowboys: Best and worst case scenario for the secondary

Anthony Brown #30 (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Anthony Brown #30 (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

No position group has a higher variance in 2020 than the Dallas Cowboys secondary

If you’re not concerned about the state of the Dallas Cowboys secondary in 2020 you either have an extremely optimistic view of their players or you’re severely underrating the importance of a strong secondary in the postseason.

While it’s perfectly possible the Cowboys secondary lives up the highest of hopes, it’s equally as possible they crater and become the reason Dallas can’t advance in the playoffs. Such is the case when you dispatch your lone CB1 in free agency and replace him with a collection of rawer-than-usual rookies and free agent journeymen.

Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson both have tremendous upside, but both come to the pros rawer than your typical rookie. Diggs has flashed some nifty ball skills, but he’s also shown his inexperience and has been picked on regularly. He’s not someone anyone wants to see starting on the boundary in Week 1.

Most hope in finding a true CB1 on this roster lies with soon-to-be free agent, Chidobe Awuzie. While Awuzie is much better than the casual fan credits him for, he was undeniably a weak link in the Dallas secondary much of last season and often singled out and targeted by opposing passing attacks. While improvement in this new Dallas scheme (one that isn’t overtly transparent) is to be assumed, expecting him elevate his game to legit CB1 standards in Year 4 may be a little far-fetched.

Some are pinning their hopes on fellow 2017 draft pick Jourdan Lewis. Touted as the only true “ballhawk” of the bunch, Lewis has built up quite the fan club over the years. But he’s been entrenched as the No. 4 CB option throughout most of his career for a reason. And while he gave us some impressive highlights last season, overall it was his worst performing season of his career and he had more poor plays than good.

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Anthony Brown has been the best of the bunch in training camp this year (by a fairly wide margin). But his best spot is inside against the slot and he doesn’t seem like a viable option against the stereotypical WR1 X most teams employ.

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Dallas Cowboys Secondary: Who do you trust?

It’s not as if the Dallas Cowboys need to find a CB capable of locking down a WR1 like Byron Jones used to do, but they do need someone who can at the least lock down a WR2. That’s because the Cowboys can’t provide safety support to everyone.

Even if they increase their 2-Man looks in 2020 like we expect. They will still need a CB capable of playing without safety support.

Dallas Cowboys Secondary: Don’t bank on the pass-rush

Many will point to the improved pass-rush as a way the secondary will improve this year, but even the best pass rushing teams in the league struggle to impact the passer more than 30 percent of the time. So even in the best case D-line scenario the secondary will need to hold their own 70 percent of the time.

The Cowboys defense is going to be blitzing more than they have in the past half-decade. To do this the secondary has to be able to handle their business one-on-one. That’s no small task and it’s the reason virtually all NFL QBs improve their passer rating against a blitz (blitzing is dangerous business). The pass rush is not a magic elixir.

Dallas Cowboys Secondary: Turnovers

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The good news is turnovers are sure to improve. With a less transparent scheme and plenty of overt deception in the playbook, the Cowboys are going to have more opportunities than ever before. Last year the Dallas Cowboys defied odds with their lack of interceptions. If they can just regress to the mean they’re going to double their totals from last season.

When you consider the coaching changes and new personnel, the Dallas Cowboys underwent a significant makeover in their secondary this offseason. And while more turnovers are expected, improvement as a whole is far from a sure thing. With no true CB1 on the roster the ceiling is limited for arguably the most important position group on defense.

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The 2020 Cowboys secondary could be a bright spot or a disaster this season. No other area of the team has such a wide delta in possible outcomes. Optimism is fine, but concern needs to be applied.

  • Published on 08/21/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 08/21/2020 at 07:26 AM