Ever since Mike Nolan was hired as the new defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, his background with the 3-4 scheme has caused ample speculation about Dallas making a change in 2020. But new Head Coach Mike McCarthy confirmed yesterday that the Cowboys will be sticking with the 4-3 defense this season.
So with that information, do we now have a clearer picture of what Dallas needs to do with the rest of their offseason? And especially this week, what they may do in the 2020 NFL Draft?
It’s been interesting so far to see how Dallas has added defensive talent in free agency. Letting Robert Quinn leave while adding Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe hinted at a desire for more flexibility in the defensive front.
Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy says they will have a 4-3 defense with some 3-4 principles like the designated pass rusher concept.
Quinn is a 4-3 defensive end through and through. He’s not big enough to play as a 3-4 DE or flexible enough to play outside linebacker. But McCoy has the size and skills to play multiple position on the line in either scheme, and Poe could be a 3-4 nose tackle if asked.
So when McCarthy says “3-4 principles,” just how far might that go?
It’s very possible that the Cowboys will look to befuddle opponents with multiple defensive fronts. They could have Poe, McCoy, and Tyrone Crawford as 3-4 linemen and Lawrence rushing from one side.
Jaylon Smith could occasionally be used as the other edge rusher. Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith also have those skills, and Smith was a star for the 49ers in that role. Dorance Armstrong also could make that switch.
But along with all that comes the draft. This idea of using a designated pass rusher and potentially throwing some different looks at opponents could be why the Cowboys are reportedly so interested in LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson.
While he may not ever reach the heights of DeMarcus Ware, as few have or could, Chaisson definitely has a similar feel as a draft prospect as Ware did. Along with elite pass-rushing potential, K’Lavon has the athleticism to drop back into coverage and handle other roles.
He could be your designated pass rusher on those downs, a 4-3 strong side linebacker on others; just a lot of ways to help the team.
The Cowboys are built to have a lot of options on defense in 2020. The key now is replacing key departures like Robert Quinn and Byron Jones and making sure there’s enough talent out there to make schemes and strategies effective.
Hopefully, whether it’s Chaisson or others, the upcoming draft picks help Dallas towards that goal.