Fri, 27 Nov 2020

Mailbag: Assessing The Defense After Six Games

Dallas Cowboys
22 Oct 2020, 19:24 GMT+10

by Dallas Cowboys Mailbag, Nick Eatman & David Helman

After six games this season, the Cowboys' defense has now given up 20, 39, 38, 49, 34 and 38 points. Is this a bad scheme for the personnel, lack of talent, poor coaching, or all of the above? It would seem coaching and scheme would have to play a role for them to be this bad. - JEFF PARSONS / AMARILLO, TX

Nick: It's hard to answer that because a lot of these people came here with strong pedigrees. The players that signed here have had lots of success at other stops. The same could be said for the coaches. But I think you have to look more towards the staff than the players on this one. Let's not forget that Mike McCarthy told us several times in the offseason that he has an adaptable scheme that fits his players. That being said, it's not fitting right now. Yes, the COVID-19 issues are a factor. And you can say they're a factor for all teams, but I would imagine the new staffs like the Cowboys have a harder time than the others because you're trying install so much and build a culture and program at the same time. It's "all of the above" plus the offense as well. Don't forget the offense has put this defense in a spot to give up a lot of points, too. Add it all up and you've got yourself quite the mess.

David: Perhaps the one positive of a situation like this is that there is plenty of blame to go around. You don't put yourself on a historic pace for ineptitude just for one single reason. The Cowboys' defense is not all that talented - we've known that since the summer. They also don't seem to be picking up the new scheme very well, which could be an indictment of their own ability as well of the abilities of the coaches that are teaching it to them. I definitely think it's a combination of both. Moving forward, I think it's probably time for the coaches to pare down what they're asking of the players - and for the players to do a better job of remembering their assignments.

Was Andy Dalton's play really an issue Monday? Am I the only one who saw him play and hang in the pocket despite loaded pressures? Rusty sure, but pocket awareness and escaped pressure to me. - RANSOM MCINTIRE / EL PASO, TX

Nick: He played OK. And if anyone has really watched him over his career, especially here in recent years, you probably shouldn't have expected much more. Now, if this was Andy Dalton playing behind Tyron, Zack, Connor, La'el and Travis Frederick, or even Looney, then it might be a different story. But he hung in there a little bit, maybe more than he should've at times, and I thought did a decent job. He certainly didn't have much help with Zeke fumbling twice and Michael Gallup dropping a TD pass. All in all, Dalton was about average but with the defense like it was and the lack of help on the line, he's going to have to be way better than that for the Cowboys to win.

David: Dalton was not the reason the Cowboys lost that game. He had some bad moments, and I thought he seemed to hold the ball too long at times. But he played fairly well behind a bad offensive line. His star running back fumbled twice, and one of his top-notch receivers dropped a sure touchdown pass. He will need to play better if the Cowboys are going to right the ship, but he was not the reason why the ship sunk on Monday night.

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