The Dallas Cowboys need to fix their defensive woes once and for all

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys defense is still struggling with the same issues that plagued them in 2019.

Sfter seeing the defense decline in 2019, the Dallas Cowboys addressed just about every defensive need they could think of through free agency and the draft.  When it came to the defensive line, the Cowboys signed free agent defensive linemen Dontari Poe, Gerald McCoy, Aldon Smith, and then drafted defensive tackle Neville Gallimore and edge rusher Bradlee Anae.

The Dallas Cowboys addressed their secondary as well, signing free agent safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and then drafting defensive backs Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson.

Basically, the Cowboys had addressed every major issue that had plagued the defense from the previous year: The inability to stop the run, an inconsistent pass rush, and not having ball hawking defensive backs that could cover were all addressed by the Cowboys front office.

Well…at least that was supposed to happen! 

But after watching the Cowboys defense collapse and lose to a mediocre Los Angles Rams team, it looked like the same ol’ issues from last year.

Before you say I’m overreacting and pushing the panic button too soon, just hear me out about the defensive blemishes on this Dallas team. At first glance, I didn’t know if I was watching the same Dallas defense from the 2018 Divisional Playoffs because the Rams did the exact same thing by running up and down the field with ease to start the game.

Heck, where was Tank last season? He recorded five little bitty sacks!

You do remember that disastrous playoff game where Dallas’ defense gave up 273 rushing yards and three touchdowns to Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson? In that same game, Dallas’ defense made slightly above average quarterback Jared Goff look a like Hall of Fame nominee quarterback. In Sunday night’s thriller (it was scary at times), Dallas’ defense put on a repeat performance by not stopping the run, missing tackles, not using gap discipline, being poor in coverage, and just simply getting out-schemed.

I could go on and on about the defensive woes, but how does this defense come out and play the same way with a different coaching staff, new players, and a supposedly new scheme that would play to the strengths of its players?

Like blitzing linebacker Jaylon Smith more often versus leaving him in coverage to get smoked like a hot link on a grill. I will get back to Smith’s struggles in a moment.

Dallas needs to find a way to stop this defensive bleeding immediately. Except for the 2018 season, Dallas’ defense has been its weakest link for over a decade.

Yeah, Dallas’ defense has had a few bright spots on the defensive side of the ball over the years with former corner Byron Jones, missing-in-action pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, Sean Lee when healthy, and the outstanding play of  Randy Gregory ,whenever he’s not serving a suspension.

Outside of those players, the success of a consistent Dallas defense as a whole is far and few in between.

But let’s get back to Jaylon Smith. Jaylon is a ferocious tackler with great speed and needs to be put in position to play to his strengths. Jaylon isn’t good in coverage and is more suited to blitz as a downhill tackler. When Jaylon has to cover in space, he gets lost just like he’s in outer space on a NASA assignment. And not having his buddy, Leighton Vander Esch, by his side causes for more confusion.

Defensive coordinator Nolan Smith-known for blitzing his linebackers-needs to wake up and utilize Jaylon like the beast we saw at Notre Dame. Jaylon is built to play on the outside and blitz from all over the field.

If Jaylon is used as pass rusher, this defense will improve immediately in that department because Jaylon has long arms and the athleticism to go with it to sack opposing quarterbacks.

Simply put, Jaylon is not suited to play the a traditional LB position.

And D-Law has gone missing like a man in the witness protection program. Tank was paid handsomely last season to the tune of a  five-year $105 million contract, with $65 million in guaranteed money. Where’s the return on investment?

Labeled the so called “War Daddy” by owner/general manager Jerry Jones, Tank needs to find the rage and hunger that once propelled him to tally 25 sacks from 2017-18. Where was Tank when Dallas’ defense needed him against he Rams and mediocre Goff?

Heck, where was Tank last season? He recorded five little bitty sacks!

As the leader of the defense, Tank needs to find his groove from his Pro Bowl years or maybe defensive line coach Jim Tomsula can find more creative ways to get Tank involved or at least ignite a fire in him.  With all of the additions on the defensive front, how and why were the Rams able to run right through them?

After hearing the rave reviews about defensive tackle Trysten Hill, I expected to see him and rookie Gallimore stuffing the Rams’ running game. Nothing happened. And nothing happened because the Rams were able to swing them around like they were a rag doll in jaw of a pitbull.

The only positive(s) from the defense was the play of Aldon Smith, who recorded a sack and is the reason why Chidobe Awuzie caught an interception. And the play of rookie Diggs was beyond good.

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At some point, Dallas either has to sign Earl Thomas to improve the secondary, and sign Clay Matthews to man the middle to help Jaylon. Dallas’ schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Atlanta Falcons coming to town on Sunday with All Pro wideout Julio Jones being a troublesome play maker.

Then Dallas travels to the Pacific Northwest to play the Russell Wilson led Seattle Seahawks. That’s going to be one tough game. So getting this defense up to speed is crucial if it doesn’t want to start the season 0-3 or 1-2 this season.

Site expert Reid Hanson wrote a pre-season article about the Cowboys defense not improving on paper. And after watching Dallas’ defense below average performance, Reid is correct until proven otherwise.

Hot. 3 TEs the Cowboys should target via free agency or trade. light

On paper, the Dallas Cowboys defense did NOT improve. dark. Next

Just to be clear, I’m not pushing the panic button about Dallas’ defense this early in the season. But I’m pushing for a defense to finally fix its defensive woes once and for all.

Because this defensive pandemic has plagued this franchise for over a decade, and its time for a change. BOOM!

  • Published on 09/18/2020 at 11:30 AM
  • Last updated at 09/17/2020 at 11:29 AM