The Dallas Cowboys D has to step up to match Dak’s play in ’21

Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Throughout 2019 and five games into 2020, the Dallas Cowboys had one of the most prolific offenses in the league.  With Dak Prescott under center, the Cowboys set NFL passing records by throwing for 1,856 yards, along with nine touchdowns, four interceptions, and averaging 371.2 passing yards a game with a 99.6 quarterback rating through the first five game of 2020.

During that span, the Dallas Cowboys offense was averaging 32 points a game while the Cowboys anemic defense was giving up 32.6 points a game, too. The Cowboys defense was so bad it couldn’t stop opposing offenses even it they knew what play was coming.

As we all witnessed, the Dallas Cowboys offense sputtered like a raggedy car after Dak’s season-ending ankle injury, and the defense continued its downward spiral by giving up the most points and being one of the worst, if not THE worst, defense in franchise history.

But with the Dallas Cowboys finally re-signing Dak to a record $160 million dollar contract (a record $126 million, fully guaranteed), it’s imperative the defense steps up to match Dak’s play this upcoming season.

Period. No excuses.

There’s no going backwards for this defense, regardless of who is playing on the defensive side of the ball. 

With the stalemate of a lengthy contract negotiations behind him, and on a path to be fully recovered from an ankle injury, Dak is expected to pick up where he left off as one of the most prolific passers in the league. Dallas can’t afford to waste that by fielding another terrible defense in 2021.

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Not only will Dak have a healthy and star-studded offensive line back at full strength, but Dak will have the best receiving corps at his disposal with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, Cedrick Wilson, and Noah Brown. Add in running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to the mix, and the Dallas Cowboys could potentially be more explosive with Dak at the helm than they were early last season. My Goodness!

Plus, Dak has always played with a chip on his shoulder. Man, I can’t wait to watch Dak unleash his anger on his lowly NFC East rivals.

Dallas’ defense should be better because of its much improved play towards the latter part of the 2020 season, where it led the league with 16 turnovers (seven interceptions/nine fumbles) and tallied 12 sacks. Dallas’ defense recorded all of those turnovers during the last seven games of the season.

This is definitely a positive and building block for a defense that was immune to forcing turnovers, especially when it came to those elusive interceptions. For a defense to rank near the bottom of the league in every defensive category, forcing turnovers is truly the confidence builder this defense needs heading into 2021.

Former Atlanta Falcons head coach and newly named defensive coordinator Dan Quinn should ignite the defense to play better, and if Dallas can draft a game-changing defensive back and sign some top notch defensive talent in free agency, then the Dallas Cowboys defense will improve dramatically.

Heck, an average defense to go with an explosive offense will be more than enough. 

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In addition to Quinn as the defensive coordinator, expect edge rushers Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence to be the lethal duo of “War Daddies” we saw last season. Gregory balled out while playing in 10 games, but a full training camp and the opportunity to play the entire season is another benefit to the Dallas Cowboys defense.

I expect Quinn to avoid his predecessor’s (Mike Nolan) mistakes and implement a defense that caters to the players’ strengths and not over complicated schemes. Because when Dallas’ offense scores a bunch of points, the defense should have enough weapons, discipline, scheme, and coaching to at least make a few crucial stops to help its offense.

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All the Dallas Cowboys defense has to do is create enough turnovers and play decent. That should be more than enough to match Dak’s stellar play and reclaim the NFC East title. Nobody is asking or expecting the defense to be elite.

But if the Dallas Cowboys organization really wants to help out its franchise quarterback, maybe, just maybe, they’ll finally invest some good money on elite, defensive talent to match the outstanding play of Dak Prescott.