This might be the #1 defense in the year 22

Patrick [No C] Walker joined the Dallas Cowboys Digital Media Group as a writer and media personality in July 2022, having professionally covered the NFL and, more specifically, the Cowboys since 2007.

He recently did so for CBS Sports via 247Sports, where he also spent time delving into mass recruiting as well – eventually becoming known for the level of unpardonable objectivity that many have called his unique brand of football “science”.

Welcome to The Science Lab, the place where football facts and in-depth analysis always triumph over sentiment.

Frisco, Texas – It’s been a very long time since the Cowboys were always the plaintiff in their case to prove themselves a Super Bowl contender in the court of public opinion, and instead often needed a defense attorney to help them, but the last several haven’t been able to do anything more than File for an infinite number of continuations.

Enter Dan Quinn, an essentially proven soccer player who not only has skins on his wall as a Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator but only needed an off-season center back for the Cowboys from actual worst in several categories to first in many – overall one of the best players in the entire NFL in 2021.

But what is the ceiling here? This question is justified, and for many reasons, but for as much evidence as possible to support a possible defensive retreat in Dallas, there are reasons to believe they are just getting started.

Let’s first talk about what, historically speaking, works against them.

Trevon Diggs is looking to build on a record-breaking season that saw him scramble in an astonishing 11 interceptions in 16 regular season starts, tying team legend Iverson Walls the most by any Cowboy in a single season and his hard-fought fall. The record set by Dick “Night Train” Lane in the 1950s; He also had 21 pass deflections in the league to align with two playoffs and 52 combined tackles (43 of which were singles).

It was an inhumane pace of production that would be difficult to replicate – to say the least – for many reasons. For example, the secret is revealed to Diggs, meaning that in order to equalize or improve his 11 interceptions (which are listed as one of his top single goals), they will need to keep throwing his way. It goes against all sorts of common sense that opposition quarterbacks will go on like crazy, but here’s what works for Diggs:

They kept doing it last season, and relentlessly, so perhaps common sense isn’t a common thing at all.

What could make it even more difficult for them to avoid Diggs in 2022 is what appears to be another level by Anthony Brown, who has arguably had the best training camp of any Cowboys other than his name Micah Parsons. The celebrations began at Oxnard with Brown pulling a six-pick against quarterback Dak Prescott, setting a defensive tone that would last throughout the remainder of camp.

A corner kick in Year Six is ​​pretty bad around the fanbase but it’s not something he can totally shake up – he had his top three interceptions last season, which, by his own admission, could have been much more. According to Brown’s count, the Cowboys “left 10 more [INTs] There’s 2021, before I say ‘I probably dropped five myself’ and point out that the defense ‘definitely has room to grow’ this next season.

This comes from a starting player in defense who scored 26 interceptions in the league last season, and he’s right: Hmm Can be better.

And there are 31 offenses in the NFL that know this to be true.

High school, led by the trio of Diggs, Brown and Jourdan Lewis (who, like Diggs and Brown, is also coming off a career best season), has improved itself on paper with the addition of fifth-round pick rookie DaRon Bland – who consistently stole the show in training camp and throughout most Pre-season – and it only took the safety unit two seasons to go from its biggest defensive weakness to one of its main strengths.

2021 additions for owner Hooker and Jayron Kerr head the pack in 2022, and former breakout safety Donovan Wilson is once again healthy to combine with rising talent Israel Mukwamu and another impressive unpolished newbie Marquis Bell to give Quinn enough ammunition to make any cross-examined deep relationship.

OK, but matches are won in the trenches first and foremost, right?

This is because the goal of any defensive coordinator is to shrink coverage windows for cornerbacks and safety, reducing exposure to key possession early play and big play later that usually results from fatigue errors (both mentally and physically), making it essential for the Cowboys. themselves at the front of their defensive unit to help make/maintain the rear end one of the elite; And losing the right start to defend Randy Gregory in free agency doesn’t help with that – a fair preliminary assessment of that loss.

But what if I told you that Dorrance Armstrong was better than most people give him credit for, and that the responsibility wouldn’t fall on him simply to secure the right edge against the All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence pass lane, who himself brings in so much law and order when healthy?

The truth is that with Gregory losing came the second-round takeover of rookie Sam Williams, who, while still a bit raw in some ways (it’s his first year, after all), has already demonstrated the ability to move buildings using his bullish dash And the speed of detonation of the past offensive interventions once or twice?

With Quinn also acknowledging Williams’ rapidly growing ability to slide in and rush in when needed, the record holder in Case All Miss’s record for one season (2021) demonstrates resilience in rushing to the edge against Lawrence but also helped an interior defensive streak look brutal as the 2022 season approaches. Alternating with Neville Gallimore, Osa Odigiswa, Chauncey Goulston and Quinton Buhana, who have all shown signs in camp to turn toward what could be breakout season for each other.

If a 5th-round rookie picks John Ridgway, who also has ground-moving power but needs to add accuracy and precision to his technique and arsenal at the point of attack, he could produce any way in the first year, well, what was a questionable run he could Over the years, the defense (pre-Queen) becomes someone to fear in the upcoming campaign.

Dallas’ running defense wasn’t nearly as bad as anecdotally believed, but, middle of the pack at fast yards (16) with 1,918 allowed and subpar in yards per carry (23) at 4.5 allowed per lunge, you see a clear area of ​​growth.

However, they were in the top ten in allowed touchdowns (9) and 13 quick touchdowns were given up only twice more than the fifth-ranked Buccaneers and only four more than the Patriots and Broncos – who tied for the fewest in the entire NFL season Past – This was achieved with Gallimore missing all but four of his starts.

Given that Gallimore might be the skeleton key to everything Quinn is trying to unlock in running defense and inside pressure, and seeing that he’s healthy and back to the top (or better?) this season, all signs point to an improvement between the finishers in the line of defense.

Oh, and then there’s someone called Micah Parsons, and I assume you’ve heard of him.

All he did was earn a First-Team All-Pro honor and a Pro Bowl nod as a rookie last season, as he blasted off to 13 bags (6fh in the NFL) The full-back is off the balladding three forced holdings, three floundering recoveries, and 84 co-interventions (64 singles) to his first-year resume, so you should write it as a problem for any and all opposing offenses.

But, like Diggs, the question of whether Parsons can equal or better than that success in 2022 is a fair question, but given that he was far and away he had the best camp of anyone on the list – except for anyone at all – he went to correct. Start to avoid any kind of regression.

“Brother, I can get better all around,” Parsons said at the 2022 NFL Pro Bowl in February. “I can become a better rushing player. I can become a better LB. Like, anything. I just feel like I’m just outside and I’ve been learning, growing and continuing to improve throughout the year.

“No one is ever perfect. There is always room for growth in many ways to improve.”

So thinks coach Mike McCarthy, and there’s no reason not to.

“You know, I think Micah is a sophomore,” McCarthy said of the Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard. “And what you’re looking at from the junior class—we talk about it all the time—is taking that sophomore leap. He’s lost a little weight; he’s really had an off season. Obviously, in Year 2, what people look like in him, how they’re going to have to plan to face him, We spent an entire year working out the blueprints around this and making sure we were giving him the opportunities he needed.

“…He has definitely put himself in a position to take a big leap in the second year.”

Helping Parsons’ mission is the addition of four-time Pro Bowl player Anthony Barr, an acquisition that instantly adds a barrel of dynamite to an LB unit that can add a level of all-out blasting rarely seen from a second-tier Cowboys defense.

The presence of Barr makes it virtually impossible to get into Parsons, as does what appears to be a player designed by Leighton Vander Esch (in a deal that proved successful in 2022, no less) and the return of former Gabriel Cox in the fourth round to help make an LB weapon that can cover The sideline sideline and shot from a cannon towards the opposite centre-back at the most appropriate but unpredictable time.

The bottom line is the Cowboys’ defense, while it was excellent in 2021, left a lot of meat on the bone and they know it.

So, they’ve gone to work to add a cut that can not only undo at least one major staff loss, but that seems to have created such a talent surplus – which has added to the current impact of players seeking to prove that their best campaign of their careers last season didn’t. be ”. ta fluke – creates an atmosphere of competition, motivation, mentorship, and a hunger for more that also makes it as difficult to understand repeating the best parts of 2021 as it is to try to understand a scenario in which they can’t improve.

If this unit can mostly stay healthy, considering what it has managed to achieve despite the massive human toll one year ago, the sky is really the limit.

Time will tell how it all goes, but in the case of Quinn and the Cowboys, the defense isn’t planning to stop their case in 2022 — at least not unless they’re the last to hold out in February.

No objections here, Your Honor.