Dallas Cowboys: Free agent signing Brent Urban to transform the defense

Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Dallas Cowboys announced the signing of free agent defensive tackle, Brent Urban, Cowboys Nation erupted in a chorus of, “yeah, I think I know that guy.” Urban, a 30 year-old rotational run stuffer from Chicago, didn’t lead many Top Free Agent lists this offseason, but he may prove to be one of the most pivotal additions in Dallas nonetheless.

Coming off one of their worst defensive seasons in the history of the franchise, the Cowboys entered the offseason with needs aplenty on defense. The headliner of that sad group – defensive tackle. With  Antwaun Woods, Neville Galimore, and Trysten Hill as the top DTs under contract, Dallas needed to upgrade their interior defense in a big way.

The second worst run-stopping unit in the NFL gave up 5.0 yards per carry and needed a fundamental transformation to right the ship here in 2021. But Stephen Jones, thrift shopper extraordinaire, had a better idea. He’d set his sights on an underrated rotational piece he could sign for a song. And the Dallas Cowboys did just that when they signed Brent Urban to a 1-year $1.75 million deal to join the silver and blue.

Brent Urban may be the Dallas Cowboys most impactful free agent signing of the offseason

Urban, rated by Pro Football Focus as the 3rd best DT run-stopper in the NFL last year, will be a huge addition to the Cowboys interior. He and Woods will combine to form quite the 1-2 punch as rotational 1-technique defensive tackles and should be able to do what no one could do last year – stabilize the D-line.

Related Story. Cowboys on the Chalkboard: Understanding the techniques. light

Brent Urban alone isn’t the magic elixir. The biggest element to the Dallas Cowboys  newfound ability to stop the run lies in the scheme itself. Under Mike Nolan the Cowboys dabbled in more middle-of-the-field-open looks and 2-gap fronts. This made the Cowboys front more reactionary and less aggressive in the gaps and had a trickle-down effect to the second level.

Dan Quinn comes to Dallas with a familiar scheme: the single high safety. Playing more single high (Quinn is not exclusive to single high) will move an extra defender into the box and feature more one-gap principles employed in those Rod Marinelli years.

More from Dallas Cowboys

Urban’s presence will offer relief to Antwaun Woods in the 1-tech rotation. Woods has always been at his best when he’s fresh. Quinn’s 1-techs will still be asked to 2-gap often and they wil be tasked with keeping the linebackers behind them clean.

A big reason Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith looked terrible last year was because they were taking on so many blocks. If Urban and Woods can hold those 300+lb. lineman at bay more often, it will have a positive impact on that second level.

It’s a trickledown effect that helps all layers of the defense.

Even Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill stand to gain. Last season the Dallas Cowboys felt compelled to use them in the 1-tech role (particularly Gallimore). Both players are better 3-tech prospects and will be utilizing their skill sets better playing as such. Having Urban and Woods as 1-techs, they will be free to do what they do best and hopefully produce some splash plays in the process.

light. Must Read. The Dallas Cowboys are about to get busy again in free agency

Next. How LVE was actually worse than Jaylon Smith last year. dark

Brent Urban may be the Dallas Cowboys most important signing of the offseason. Combined with the defensive scheme change, the Dallas run D should be a whole lot better.