When the Dallas Cowboys began the 2014 season, predictions were abundant about the defense setting records for, and becoming known as the worst defense in the history of the NFL. While many forecasted the team to end with a losing record.
One year later, not only did they win the division with a 12-4 record, they ended the year one game away from playing in the NFC Championship, and to most everyone’s surprise the defense improved to 19th in total team defense.
Now here we are, about to begin the 2015 season and expectations are high. The offense remains intact as one of the top units in the league. The question is: Did the Dallas defense improve enough; the answer is yes.
With the additions of Greg Hardy, Byron Jones, Randy Gregory, Damien Wilson, and others, along with players like DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, and Ben Gardner with another year under their belt there is optimism—at least for me—that this could very well be a top 10 defense in the league, if not top 5.
Lawrence has completely transformed his body and the results are translating to the field so far in camp.
With as good as Hardy has been in his career, he hasn’t had to face a guy like Tyron Smith day in and day out, the same goes for Gregory who is still learning the nuances of playing in the NFL, but he is looking better every day.
Jones, along with Corey White, have shown the position flex that the coaching staff loves to play—not only corner but free safety.
The linebacker core not only gets the return of Lee (hopefully for a whole year) but the addition of Wilson, Jasper Brinkley, and Andrew Gachkar greatly increases the depth at the position; and it could be even better if someone whispered to Rolando McClain that he’s not Bryan Waters—he needs to practice.
So, how good can this defense be in 2015?
They finished 2014 28th in the league with a meager 28 sacks. With the improvements made to the defensive line, it’s going to increase dramatically—I predict to 42.
22 points a game, good for 18th last year will also be improved. My prediction is 19.
They ended last year with a +6 turnover margin tied for 9th in the league. Another area that I expect to improve. Prediction: +12.
These are some lofty expectations for a defense that will be without Hardy and McClain for the first four weeks of the season. The other side of that will be increased snaps for the likes of Gregory and Wilson, which in turn will make the unit even scarier come week five.
The predictions I mentioned above are the three areas of the defense I expect to improve the most, and when they come true it will be more than enough to firmly entrench the defense into the top ten in the league next year.
Are the predictions of a top 10 defense too high for the Dallas defense? Let us know in the comments below.