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Keanu Neal Credits Defensive Coaches for Why He Chose the Cowboys

Veteran safety Keanu Neal recently signed a one-year deal to join the Dallas Cowboys. In an interview this morning, Neal credited his former Falcons coaches Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr. as why he chose Dallas over other suitors in free agency.

Quinn took over as Defensive Coordinator this year in Dallas after the firing of Mike Nolan. Quinn has previously been head coach for the Atlanta Falcons since 2015 and has coached Keanu Neal for his entire NFL career.

Joe Whitt Jr. just joined Dallas’ staff as Secondary Coach and Passing Game Coordinator. He was with Quinn in Atlanta in 2020 following a brief stint with the Browns and many years before that in Green Bay. He only worked with Neal for one season in Atlanta but apparently made an impression.

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Cowboys S Keanu Neal equally complementary of Joe Whitt Jr. “very smart coach. Very knowledgeable of the game.” Says he’s not a guy who yells but still gets point across. Another fun fact? Tells @BobbyBeltTX and I that he & his wife expecting first child in 3 weeks. A baby boy.

Hearing that a player followed these coaches to Dallas is very positive news after 2020. Mike Nolan’s one season as Defensive Coordinator was a disaster both on the field and in the way players seemed to respond to him.

Last year, Jaylon Smith openly criticized the coaching scheme after the team’s early losses. In October, Xavier Woods made a public statement about his own lack of effort and insinuated the same from some of his teammates.

Say what you will about former defensive coaches Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard, but you never had these kind of comments and issues under their watch.

The Cowboys fired Nolan shortly after the regular season and soon hired Dan Quinn to replace him. While his defenses in Atlanta never really came together as exceptional units, he was the man behind the “Legion of Boom” with the Seattle Seahawks.

Former Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright once praised Quinn as a “defensive mastermind” when the coach departed to take the head coach position with the Falcons.

Dallas’ hiring of Quinn is based on the hope that he will undo Mike Nolan’s damage restore solvency to the defense. Hopefully, Keanu Neal’s decision to follow Dan and Joe Whitt to the Cowboys is a good sign for what these men will bring to the team in 2021.

What do you think?

Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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  1. here is a 7 rd mock to fix DALLASAll Picks
    User Picks

    Dallas Cowboys
    Patrick Surtain II
    CB, Alabama

    Dallas Cowboys
    Liam Eichenberg
    OT, Notre Dame

    Dallas Cowboys
    Milton Williams
    IDL, Louisiana Tech

    Dallas Cowboys
    Quincy Roche
    EDGE, Miami

    Dallas Cowboys
    Deonte Brown
    IOL, Alabama

    Dallas Cowboys
    Davis Mills
    QB, Stanford

    Dallas Cowboys
    Darrick Forrest
    S, Cincinnati

    Dallas Cowboys
    Shakur Brown
    CB, Michigan State

    Dallas Cowboys
    Paddy Fisher
    LB, Northwestern

    Dallas Cowboys
    Matt Bushman
    TE, BYU

  2. Ok here’s my 4 round mock draft :

    10th pick I know there will be haters of this pick lol : J Waddle WR

    42nd pick : A McNeill DT

    74th pick : T Gowan CB

    I traded the 96th pick to the Chiefs for the 136th and 144th pick

    115th pick : B Browning LB

    136th pick : B Brown III DT

    138th pick : T Hufanga S

    144th pick : E Smith DE

    I’m loving Alim McNeill at DT more and more , he’s a great run stuffer who can develop more into a effective Pass Rusher , and he will fit right in at 1-Tech on D-Line ,

    Tay Gowan will fit right in to DQ system with his length and speed

    Like Bobby Brown III as a developmental 1-Tech DT , gives us yet another run stuffer , hopefully between him and McNeill , and Brent Urban our Run D will be fixed

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