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Xavier Woods: Dallas Cowboys to be more Varied Defensively in 2020

Much of the criticism that has revolved around the over the last several years point to their predictability on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The philosophy was to keep things simple to allow the players to play fast without thinking.

Unfortunately, though, that simplicity led to predictability in their offensive and defensive concepts. was elevated to the last to help the , and this offseason the Cowboys will get an overhaul under new .

Like the offense, the grew stale and needed to change.

yesterday spoke on some of the differences between the under and and what it may look like under Mike Nolan.

In the modern , as much of the game is played between the ears as it is between the lines. The Dallas Cowboys rarely worked to disguise their coverages or rush packages. The Cowboys predictability became a big talking point after the Cowboys loss to the during the . The Rams offense mentioned the Cowboys tipped their stunts based on how they lined up.

Under , and by extension, the coordinators that worked under Garrett, the Dallas Cowboys relied on the “beat your man” philosophy. At times and in different areas of the game, it worked. But often, the Cowboys just weren't good enough to overcome the schematic advantages their opponents employed in-game.

Take that 2018 playoff loss to the Rams. The Cowboys were undoubtedly a good enough defense in 2018, even if they weren't a great defense. That week, and C.J. Anderson, with help from 's game planning, ran roughshod over the Dallas Cowboys defense. Their plan focused on getting the to the second level quickly to negate the athletic abilities of and .

Last season, opposing offensive coordinators double and triple-teamed and Robert Quinn and forced the Cowboys to win up the middle. Because Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard focused on winning with four rushers, it was all too easy at times to block up the Cowboys rush package. Players can only cover for so long before they eventually get beat.

The “beat your man” philosophy works great if your talent is superior to your opponent, as we saw in 2019. But when the opposition is on equal footing, that's when scheme, game-planning, and adjustments can put you over the top. They don't want the offense to be able to get a read on what they're doing week to week.

The Cowboys have worked all offseason to bring in players that can help them become a team that can show opposing offenses multiple looks. From the addition of a true in to adding a 3-4 in , the Cowboys have a front seven that can line up in a multitude of formations, which will keep teams guessing at what they're doing. Throw in a player like Jaylon Smith, who is an outstanding blitzing linebacker, and the Cowboys will have a variety of players they can send to the .

Much like an offense uses pre-snap motion to keep defenses off-balance, a defense will attempt to disguise what they're doing pre-snap as well.

If everything Xavier Woods says comes to pass, the Dallas Cowboys won't be completely reliant on their talent to win games, and they'll look to use their scheme to keep offenses off-balance as well. Their versatility and unpredictability will be an asset for a team that is still trying to figure out the makeup of their and from where they'll get pressure on the quarterback.

John Williams
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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