Dallas Cowboys: Switch to single high reduces need at DT

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys need to upgrade at defensive tackle this offseason. That’s undeniable. Ranking at the bottom of the league in both run-stopping and pressure rate, the Cowboys are arguably the worst team in the NFL in their interior defensive line.

While Neville Gallimore showed growth and gave reasons to be excited, a second year 3rd rounder isn’t exactly who you want to pin all hope on, especially since he still finished 2020 outside Pro Football Focus’ top-100 DTs.

That’s why it’s perfectly understandable many fans in Cowboys Nation are losing their ever-loving-shiii, over Dallas’ lack of activity early in free agency. With each DT signing, the options dwindle for the Cowboys, and fans are faced with stark reality that the Dallas Cowboys may be trotting out the same unit they did last year.

But there’s good news to be had. Even if the Cowboys don’t improve their DT ranks in free agency, they should automatically improve by simply playing more single high safety.

The switch back to single high safety defense will instantly improve the Dallas Cowboys run-D.

Attempting to move away from the Pete Carroll single high safety defense last season, the Cowboys bid farewell to Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard (Carroll disciples) and brought in Mike Nolan. As we all remember, things did not go well and the Nolan experiment quickly ended.

Having seen the grass on the other side, Dallas quickly jumped back to what they knew best – the Carroll defense. They brought in Dan Quinn, who coached under Carroll in Seattle, and asked him to fix it. Quinn is certainly no one-trick-pony when it comes to schemes, but his bread and butter has long been the single high defense.

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While the single high defense has plenty of weakness (which I plan to address next week), it’s basically a cure-all for a porous run defense.  In a nutshell, it’s a defense that brings an extra run-stopper into the box. 1-gap assignments simplify things for defenders and frees them to make plays without hesitation.

The Dallas Cowboys still need two new defensive tackles. They need a 3-tech that can create pressure without being a liability against the run and they need a 1-tech who can hold off blockers to allow the linebackers behind him to stay clean and make plays.

Both DT spots will get a boost from the scheme change but both still need upgrading. So it shouldn’t feel like the end of the world that the Cowboys haven’t signed a defensive tackle yet this week. But eventually they have to because there are two important holes that need to be filled and they can’t rely on the draft to do it.

Bigger Dallas Priority: Fixing coverage or the run-D?. dark. Next

The Dallas Cowboys DT position will get a boost from the scheme change but scheme change alone won’t fix it all.

  • Published on 03/18/2021 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 03/18/2021 at 08:11 AM