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Dan Quinn Already Making His Presence Felt for the Dallas Cowboys

The 2020 season for the Dallas Cowboys was nothing short of a disaster. Nothing went well for them. The Offense suffered injuries to their most important player and two of his blockers and the defense struggled to adjust to Mike Nolan’s two-gap run defense. At times it felt like it was a miracle that they got to six wins trotting out the quarterbacks they had to play and the defense’s inability to stop anyone.

It hasn’t taken long for Quinn to make an impact from the personnel side of things. He’s remaking this defense as he sees fit.

Bringing in Dan Quinn, you knew there’d be changes on the defensive side of the ball. Of course, the scheme would revert back to the cover-3, 1-gap system they ran under Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard. In that system, they prioritized length in the secondary and penetrating ability along the defensive line.

Dan Quinn also wants there to be an element f speed and nastiness to this defense. That’s why after the first run of free agents went off the board, the Cowboys made aggressive plays to bring in former players of their new defensive coordinator Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee. Neal brings speed and physicality to the defense and can help the Cowboys and it sounds like he’ll play linebacker for Quinn. Kazee’s length and playmaking ability at the safety position will help the Cowboys make plays on the ball when there are plays to be made.

Though Jayron Kearse isn’t a former Dan Quinn player, defensive assistant George Edwards has experience with Kearse from their time together in Minnesota. Without a doubt, his length is a fit for what Dan Quinn wants, but it’s likely his playstyle fits as well.

Along the defensive line, Tarell Basham’s length and first-step are traits that fit perfectly in a Seattle-type defense. He hasn’t been as productive but reminds you of Michael Bennett, who spent half a season with the Cowboys in 2019.

But the Dallas Cowboys aren’t done adding to this defense. There is interest in adding former Seahawks Linebacker KJ Wright. And prior to his signing with the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cowboys were “exploring” the idea of adding Defensive Tackle Jarran Reed.

Quinn has been given the credit card to go spend some money to fix a defense that was abysmal at times in 2020. Though there was a spending limit on the card, Quinn and the front office have found some pieces that should improve the defense. Only the result of the 2021 season will tell the tale of how impactful these signings were, but it’s a step in the right direction to creating a defensive unit in the image of its defensive coordinator.

Dan Quinn is looking for leadership and an attitude. They’ve brought in as many as six outside free agents for the defensive side of the ball through the first few weeks of free agency. Each of them has a chance to figure into the rotation at their respective spots. Quinn is wasting little time trying to shape his personnel to fit what he wants in his scheme. And with quite a few free agents still to consider and the NFL Draft less than a month away, the Cowboys are making good strides to fixing a defense that left a lot to be desired in 2020.

What do you think?

John Williams

Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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  1. Agree with you John. Defense is being greatly improved. Come the draft along, and hopefully will have a very good defense, along with Quinn’s new scheme.

  2. I wouldn’t go as far as saying we greatly improved on D with the signings , but it’s a start , just need to have a good draft to fill the needs on D and then we’ll be set up good

  3. Even greatly improved probably puts the D towards the bottom 5 in the league, that being said at least they are not doing off season where they buy more toys for the offense. That has lead the Cowboys to this situation as it stands and let’s hope balance is the name of the game going forward.

    • They were much better in the second half of the season than they were in the first. I don’t think it’s a stretch to think they could get to 15 with the additions they’ve made on defense so far.

  4. Some are saying we haven’t improved a “great deal” yet. Ok, but things to consider: Healthy offense keeps the defense on the sidelines longer. The new defensive “scheme” by itself is a great improvement. The added pieces also an upgrade from last seasons personnel. With a good draft, the Boys improvement is enough to win the division and make some noise in the playoffs.

  5. I really hope they draft a CB in the 1st round. A number of people mocking Kyle Pitts. He’s a great TE but defense needs the help. Can’t out score teams every game.

  6. If PItts is at 10 then you can’t pass him up , try and tell me how we gonna keep Gallup , Schultz and that Jarwin will bounce back 100% , yeah probably won’t all happen ,

    plus there’s tons of CBs in draft who can come in and play , Gowan , Stokes , Williams , Melifonwu , Campbell , Joseph , and Thomas .

    George O’Brien , we hope and think the scheme is better , but when DQ was having all his success , he had the LOB with Wagner , Avril , Wright , and Bennett in the front , ANY DC WOULD LOOK GOOD WITH THAT TALENT ,

    and the only other evidence we have of DQ being a good DC is him in Atlanta (He wasn’t DC , but he was HC and he was brought in for Defense) and you see the results he produced in Atlanta

    He’s better than Nolan , but how much better ? Is a change of scheme enough to make our D that much better ? All I’m saying is that the Boys need to do more for them to be significantly better , adding guys like Wright or Reed and or having a good draft will be what makes us that much better

    I agree that the Boys best D is a good Offense , which is why adding someone like Pitts in first round isn’t as far fetched as it seems

  7. Jarran Reed signed with the chiefs a couple days ago!! And adding Pitts to our team when we have way bigger needs on defense would be a mistake!! Your right, there are other corners that can start from day one in this draft, but none of them are gonna be as good as Surtain or Horn…. I don’t care what anybody says!! If those other corners were just as good then they would be projected to go in the 1st round too, but they’re not and that’s because they’re not as good!! We’ll be much better off drafting for our defense in the 1st round, specifically corner!! And if they decide we do wanna go TE in the draft, we can go for Brevin Jordan, or Tommy Tremble or Trey Mckitty later in the draft!! All of you Kyle Pitts people need to realize that all of the best TEs in the NFL right now were NOT drafted in the 1st round, they were drafted in the 2nd round or later!! Which means we don’t have to draft one in the 1st round to get a great TE!! So stop with the craziness…. Corner is the best way to go in the 1st round!!

  8. CB ELI APPLE WAS THE 10TH OVERALL PICK TO GIANTS enuf said lol

    And there’s a reason why those guys aren’t in the same breath as Pitts , just like with CBs , and look at the Pats , they drafted 2 3rd round TEs last year , they’re last in the league last year in every category for TE , and now they add Smith and Henry at TE in FA

    All I’m saying is if Pitts falls to us we gotta draft him at 10 , either that , or hope Giants and Eagles don’t take him after us , which they will draft him if he does

    Of course the likelihood of that happening is pretty much 0 chance he’ll fall to us , he’s the 2nd best player in this draft only behind Lawrence , so we won’t have a decision to make , i agree going corner in that circumstance, but if somehow someway the impossible becomes possible and we do have a chance of getting Pitts , we can’t pass him up

    As far as other CBs in draft , i agree , they got faults in their games which is why they aren’t in the same breath of a Surtain or Horn , but if DQ is that great of a DC as ppl make him out to be , then he can work with some of the guys in this draft besides Surtain or Horn , and even make those guys studs

    If Surtain is there at 10 and Pitts isn’t then yes , we should go Surtain , or maybe consider Parsons there at 10 as well

  9. I agree with getting Pitts would be best route based on numbers alone we had one of worst TE groups in football if he’s not there at 10 fine get a CB but it’s a pretty deep CB class and hopefully get KJ if we get KJ then we would have a trio of LBs Jaylon should be happy going back to the scheme that made both him and Leighton pro bowlers we still have decent CB who yeah needs improvement but remember he was a rookie and didn’t get training camp because of COVID-19 and we’ve picked up good safety’s in FA

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