The Dallas Cowboys are one of a handful of teams with a new coaching staff coming in this season. Coincidentally, two of the other NFC East teams, Washington and New York, also have new coaching staffs. With the possibility increasing each day that OTAs and minicamps are going to be canceled due to the coronavirus, it’s going to hurt a lot of these new coaches and coordinators trying to implement their new schemes and verbiage on offense and defense. One thing that works in the favor of head coach Mike McCarthy is that he was able to keep the offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to call the plays this season.
Having Moore gives McCarthy the ability to continue to use the verbiage and run the same plays from last season, leaving McCarthy to only worry about any new offensive free agents and rookies coming in to learn the offense. The same cannot be said for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan who is planning on installing a new defensive scheme for the Cowboys.
Linebacker Sean Lee touched on this last month during an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“Hopefully, we can get past this and have some type of offseason. But if not, I think there’s a game plan to maybe use some technology, to use the iPads, maybe to Skype to have some of those meetings because there’s no question — offensively and defensively — trying to learn new systems, kinda systems that are probably different than what we’ve had in the past, we’re going to need to have those meetings and have that time.”
While those meeting will help the players learn Nolan’s new defensive system, and they can be done via Skype, it’s not as good as the hands on coaching that the OTAs and minicamps provide. When you are taking a defense that’s a base 4-3 and installing some 3-4 defensive fronts, face-to-face meetings are what’s really needed. Nolan and his positional coaches need to get their hands on these players to make sure they are technically sound or else the defense could really struggle during the season.
This is just another reason the defense could struggle for the Cowboys, especially early in the upcoming season. The defense was already the weak link on the team. Their inability to create turnovers has been a constant source of irritation for the team and for fans. In free agency, the Cowboys biggest losses were on the defensive side of the ball where they lost four starters in Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, Maliek Collins and Jeff Heath. While the argument can be made that replacing a couple of those guys was needed, losing Jones and Quinn created holes on the roster.
The draft is looking like it could be heavily tilted to the defense. Even Stephen Jones admitted recently that the defense was the priority this offseason.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones: "Defense is the priority for this offseason."— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) February 24, 2020
The team has made some strides in that area by signing Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Aldon Smith (if he gets reinstated), but those guys are all new. The same goes for the guys that come in from the draft. Combine that with a new coordinator on defense and a new head coach, and the problems with no, or delayed, OTAs and minicamps, and you have a lot of work to do on that side of the ball.
The Cowboys might have to rely on the offense for the first month of the season.