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Cowboys news: Dan Quinn takes over the defense and could the Cowboys go after a QB?

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Chicago Bears v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys agree to deal with former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn to be defensive coordinator, according to reports - Jori Epstein, USA Today

The Cowboys got their man and now let’s see what he does to fix this defense.

The Dallas Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on Friday.

On Monday, they agreed in principle to replace Nolan with former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, according to multiple reports. NFL Network reported the news first. Quinn flew to Dallas for formal in-person interviews Monday, per reports, and the decision came quickly.

Nolan’s one-year tenure ended after a historically bad season in which the Cowboys allowed more points (473) and more touchdowns (57) than any unit in the Cowboys’ 61-season history.

In five-plus seasons as Falcons head coach, Quinn compiled a 43-42 record that ended with an 0-5 start to 2020. He and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were fired from Atlanta on Oct. 11.

How and why the Cowboys should trade up in 2021 NFL Draft for Ohio State’s Justin Fields - Rucker Haringey, Fansided

Probably better to stick with the young and proven quarterback, Dak Prescott.

If the Cowboys let Dak Prescott go, Justin Fields could be his successor

The public relations nightmare of letting Prescott leave in free agency isn’t the only challenge the Cowboys face in this scenario. They’d also need to do a fair amount of work to move up in the draft to position themselves to land Fields. Projecting how far Dallas might need to move up is a pretty inexact science at the moment.

The Cowboys have the No. 10 overall pick. There’s a chance that might be good enough to land Fields without making a trade, but that’s a chance that Dallas cannot afford to take. If they really want to make sure they can land Fields they need to find a way to move into the top-5.

The Dolphins, Falcons and Bengals currently possess the third, fourth and fifth picks in the draft respectively. Miami might not want to take a quarterback since they spent a first-rounder on Tua Tagovailoa last year. The same can be said for the Bengals and Joe Burrow. The Falcons might not be ready to spend a premium selection on a successor for Matt Ryan. In short, those are the three teams that the Cowboys should target in trade talks.

Schultz’s Emergence A Rare Bright Spot in 2020 - David Helman, DallasCowboys.com

Schultz is only going to get better.

Blake Jarwin tore his ACL in the second quarter of the season opener, all the way back on Sept. 13 against the Los Angeles Rams. In his place, Schultz caught just one pass on four targets and was flagged for an offensive pass interference penalty that nullified a touchdown.

That hardly tells the story of the season. From that point, the Stanford product was a steady producer in this Cowboys’ offense. The very next week, he caught nine balls for 88 yards and a touchdown against Atlanta. He managed to catch at least one pass in every week of the season, including a game-winning touchdown in Week 12 against Minnesota.

“Dalton’s done a tremendous job,” said offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. “We were very fortunate, to start the season the way we did losing Blake, to have Dalton ready to go. He’s taken advantage of it.”

All told, Schultz finished the season with 63 catches for 615 yards – third-best and fifth-best in the NFC among tight ends – and added four touchdowns to go with it. It’s not an exaggeration to say Schultz finished with a comparable, or perhaps even a better resume than one of the NFC’s Pro Bowl tight ends, New York’s Evan Engram.

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Early targets in 2021 free agency - Randy Gurzi, SpinZone

Defense and backup offensive linemen should be their early focus.

5. Jarrad Davis, Linebacker

In 2018, the Cowboys had one of the best linebacker corps in the NFL. Leighton Vander Esch burst onto the scene as a rookie and Jaylon Smith had found his groove in the league after shedding the AFO brace he had the season prior. Then in 2019, LVE struggled with health, and Smith’s performance took a nosedive despite the Cowboys paying him and ignoring Dak Prescott.

2020 was even worse as Smith spent more time celebrating a play where he was flagged than he did making impact plays and Vander Esch was hardly noticeable on the field, when he was able to suit up. The front office is singing their praises publicly still, but there’s no way they can go into 2021 with these two as their primary linebackers.

For that reason, adding a veteran such as Jarrad Davis makes sense. A former first-round pick out of Florida, Davis fell out of favor with Matt Patricia but still had his best season as a pro in 2020 despite not being a full-time starter. Due to Patricia being Patricia, the fifth-year option on the linebacker’s contract and he’s set to hit the open market.

Dallas Cowboys can’t lose sight of what really caused 6-10 debacle - Reid Hanson, Dallas Fort Worth

Injuries derailed this season along with poor coaching during COVID.

The dominos would continue to fall on the O-line with only one starter making it through the season unscathed.

Making matters worse were injuries to the Dallas Cowboys top defensive tackle, Gerald McCoy (never played a game), a Week 1 injury to LB Leighton Vander Esch, and early injuries to CBs Anthony Brown and Chidobe Awuzie. The defense, which was never expected to be good, was suddenly a massive liability and historically bad. And the offense, ravaged by injury, now needed “40-burgers” to just keep up, let alone win games.

The loss of the team’s most important player, Dak Prescott, provided the nail in the coffin to Dallas’ 40-burger strategy. The team couldn’t afford their offense to slip into “good” territory. It needed to be nothing short of great. Injures on defense made it so. Sadly the injuries on offense made that impossible to achieve.

What’s the point? What’s the takeaway?

That this Dallas Cowboys team is far from your usual 6-10 football club. The offensive line was a disaster but it doesn’t require a rebuild. All it needs is to get healthy. If that’s not possible, then further investment will be needed, but that remains to be seen and only the Dallas Cowboys medical staff knows the odds.

Cowboys absolute fools if they don’t re-sign Dak Prescott - Connor Green, The Landry Hat

The Cowboys just need to get it done.

Prescott managed to lead the Cowboys to the playoffs by winning the NFC East with a 13-3 record. The young quarterback was awarded the Offensive Rookie of the Year award for his efforts (Even though Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott probably deserved it). Prescott finished his rookie season with 3,667 passing yards and 23 touchdowns while only throwing four interceptions.

After a stellar rookie season, Dak headed into his sophomore year with high expectations. However, he struggled for most of his second year and the team missed out on the playoffs as it finished the year with a 9-7 record.

The Cowboys quarterback headed into his third season with several pressing questions looming. Was Prescott just a “system” passer? Could he be trusted to be the focal point of Dallas’s offense?

The Mississippi State product quickly proved his critics wrong during his third season. After initially struggling early in the year, Prescott managed to turn his year around after the team acquired Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper in a trade with the Oakland Raiders. He finished the season by posting a career-high in passing yards with 3,885.

On top of his statistical accomplishments, Prescott also managed to get America’s Team to the playoffs for the second time in his young career. Then the young signal-caller did something that it took his predecessor Romo until his sixth year in the league to do, he won a playoff game.

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