Ballhawk University: Why the Cowboys will be takeaway leaders

Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

After boasting a high-powered offense for several seasons, the Dallas Cowboys finally have a top-10 defense to go with it. The Cowboys now have all of the necessary tools on defense to compete for a championship.

The defense is led by the one of the best players in the league in Micha Parsons, then is followed with another cornerstone player in cornerback Trevon Diggs. With the addition of rookie defensive tackle Mazi Smith, the Dallas Cowboys now have the ability to stop the run, rush the passer on a consistent basis, and most importantly of all, they boost a secondary that can force and create takeaways with ease.

As a result, Dallas has all three levels of their defense covered, and the icing on the cake is it has depth at just about every position. But with the addition of former All Pro corner Stephon Gilmore and the expectations of DaRon Bland in his sophomore campaign, Dallas’ secondary is flying under the radar as one of the best in the league.

The Dallas Cowboys has led the league in takeaways two years in a row, but it has the opportunity to lead the NFL in takeaways three years in a row.

Not too long ago, the Dallas Cowboys defense was average at best and had so many holes to fill the offense had to carry the team. But those days are long gone because the defense has carved out its own identity with sack specialists, hard hitting players, and just the knack to create takeaways.

Although the game is won up front in the trenches, Dallas’ secondary is “scary” good because of how their defensive backs hawk the ball. During the 2021 season, Diggs had an All-Pro season when he collected 11 interceptions and led the league in that category. Then last season, and out of nowhere, Bland snatched five interceptions, became a starter, and led the team.

So, during the 2021 season, the defense led the league in takeaways with 34 and repeated that magnificence performance with an NFL-leading 33 takeaways. In 2021, 26 of those takeaways were interceptions, and last season the defense had 18 interceptions out of 33. That’s an awesome and staggering 44 interceptions in a two-year span.

The reason why the Dallas Cowboys secondary is “Ball-Hawk University” is because it has players that can naturally pick off passes. I know you are wondering “isn’t that what defensive backs are supposed to do?” And believe it or not, the answer is resounding “no”. Here is why.

NFL coaches know some players are better suited at coverage based off of technique (think about former corner Byron Jones) and others like Diggs, Bland, and Gilmore can play cover and play the ball. Forget about the media criticizing Diggs for giving up over 1,000 yards in 2021 (first time ever using the stat), Diggs earned those interceptions because of his anticipation, the ability to track the ball, and reading the quarterback eyes.

sidenote: Read site expert Reid Hanson article about the Dallas Cowboys versatile players. This is another reason why this defense can force takeaways.

See, that’s a lot of work for any corner to do on one play, but it explains why Jones lacked the interceptions but why Dallas’ defense features ball-hawks Diggs, Glimore, Bland, Jourdan Lewis, Israel Mukuamu, Malik Hooker, Donovan Wilson, and Jayvon Kearse.

And “ball-hawking” skills include the ability to either force fumbles or have a knack to recover fumbles and catch tips passes. All of the aforementioned players have that talent, and so do these new rookies/UDFA and second-year players: Markquese Bell (S), Myles Brooks (CB), and Eric Scott, Jr (CB).

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In conclusion,

The Dallas Cowboys have the pass rushers to sack the quarterback, create pressures, quarterback hits, and force the quarterbacks to make erratic passes which leads to takeaways. And with Gilmore and Diggs manning the outside corner spots, along with the free safeties roaming around the back like a centerfielder, expect the corners to take more opportunities jumping routes and snatching balls out of the sky.

Because that’s exactly what hawks do when they stalk their prey! Welcome to “Ball-Hawk University”.

  • Published on 06/22/2023 at 21:43 PM
  • Last updated at 06/22/2023 at 21:43 PM