Dallas Cowboys: Dan Quinn knows how to utilize his weapons

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

In 2020, the Dallas Cowboys fielded their worse defensive unit in franchise history. The Cowboys hit historical lows in nearly every defensive category and ranked 31st against the run. They were absolutely awful.

To fix their dismal defense, the Cowboys spent the majority of their draft capital on the defense. That was in addition to signing free agents like Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee, Brent Urban, and Carlos Watkins. But more importantly, the Cowboys hired former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn to rebuild the Cowboys defense into his image and liking.

Finally, after years of a mediocre defense, the Cowboys have a defensive coordinator that knows how to utilize the defensive players to the best of their capabilities. Even though its preseason, Quinn’s fingerprints can be seen and felt all over the Cowboys defense.

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is the type of DC that plays to his players’ strengths, to better the defense.

The Dallas Cowboys have always had some talent on defense. It was never coached the right way and players were put in the wrong positions

As the saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding” when it comes to the improved Dallas defense. Yes, its preseason but to see the way Quinn is using rookie linebacker Micah Parsons in different ways speaks volumes to how Quinn knows how to use certain players based on their skill set.

Parsons was drafted as an off-ball linebacker, but Quinn is moving Parsons all over the field to exploit his unique talents of speed, athleticism, instincts and tackling ability. Against the Houston Texans, for example, Parsons lined up over the center and beat two offensive linemen while hunting down the Texans quarterback like a cheetah on a gazelle in the African desert.

Here’s why this is important: Parsons’ versatility allows Dallas’ defense to wreck havoc on opposing offenses and open up opportunities for edge rushers DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory.

On one play, Parsons is a pass rusher that takes on two offensive linemen. On the next play, Parsons is playing off-ball linebacker and on the next he’s lining up against a tight end. He won all of those match-ups.

Other examples of Quinn’s presence being felt on Dallas’ defense are the combinations of players Quinn uses on defense. For instance, on one series, safeties Donovan Wilson, Damontae Kazee, and Jayron Kearse were all on the field at the same time against the Texans. That combination can tackle, cover, and make a play on the ball.

When was the last time you saw a Dallas defensive coordinator think outside the box and utilize the players’ talent to help the team instead of pigeon-holing them to fix their system? I’ll wait.

Quinn knows the skill set of Kazee and Neal because he coached them with the Falcons, so geven their versatility, why not play Kazee, Neal, and Parsons all at the same time? All of them can tackle and cover any tight end/running back coming out in the flat. Their versatility is a plus on so many levels.

Before tearing his Achilles last season, Kazee had never missed an NFL game, and played one full season each at free safety and strong safety. In Kazee’s four-year career, he has 10 interceptions, 199 combined tackles, 137 solo tackles, and five forced fumbles. That’s awesome.

Not only can Kazee tackle, but he has a nose for the ball, too. 10 interceptions are way more than what any corner has on Dallas’ roster. So imagine the chaos when Kazee, Wilson, Neal, and Parsons are all on field at the same time fulfilling different roles fitted for a scheme that suits their talents.

Let’s not forget how linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith will benefit from having the aforementioned players on the field. Yes, LVE will have a bounce back year, barring any unforeseen injury. LVE is a baller when healthy, and Smith plays at his best with a dominant defensive line.

With Parsons being so versatile, it allows Quinn so much flexibility with his linebackers and gives Dallas the depth it needs at the MIKE position, clearly one of the most crucial positions on defense. In other words, Parsons is the game-changing player this defense so desperately needs.

In conclusion, Quinn realized quickly that Dallas has the talent to be a top-15 defense and has several players from the 2018-19 teams that ranked 6th and 11th respectively. Further, Quinn is letting the talent of the players dictate which scheme(s) to use for the betterment of the defense.

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Quinn isn’t playing favorites like the previous regimen allegedly did, meaning pass rusher Gregory will get every opportunity to showcase his talents because Gregory did so much damage with limited opportunities in 2020.

Gregory tallied 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, recorded 21 tackles -15 solo-and defended one pass in 10 games.

On all three levels of Dallas’ defense, Quinn has identified what each player can do according to their skill set and is letting them play to their maximum potential. Quinn’s mindset allows for more flexibility if Dallas wants to have a mix of a 3-4 or 4-3 defense.

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The Dallas Cowboys have always had some talent on defense. It was never coached the right way or players were put in the wrong positions to only fail.

But finally, Dallas has Quinn, and he knows how to use talented players for the betterment of the team. And that’s what matters the most! BOOM!

  • Published on 08/26/2021 at 16:01 PM
  • Last updated at 08/26/2021 at 12:39 PM