Film room: 2 Cowboys defenders who stand to benefit the most from new DC Dan Quinn - John Owning, Dallas Morning News
These guys will fit better with Dan Quinn.
Donovan Wilson, S
The other defender who stands to benefit from the Quinn hire is Donovan Wilson, who was another bright spot last season.
Wilson proved to be one of the best playmakers on the defense and should thrive in the Keanu Neal/Kam Chancellor role that Quinn has used in the past. Wilson actually played more snaps at free safety under Nolan, but expect him to play more often in and around the box under Quinn, as Neal routinely spent two-thirds of his time in that area.
By playing him in and around the box more often, the Cowboys can take advantage of Wilson’s prowess against the run. Listed at 6 feet, 200 pounds, Wilson doesn’t have the usual size of a box safety, but that hasn’t stopped him from being extremely impactful.
Wilson is unafraid of taking on blockers and, despite his relatively small stature, packs quite the punch at the point of attack.
Against the pass, Wilson’s responsibilities will be volatile depending on the opponent, but in general, I think he would do well roaming the intermediate portions of the field, providing a physicality and playmaking ability against throws over the middle. This will require some adjustment for Wilson, who played a lot of deep zone coverage under Nolan, but I don’t think the learning curve will be too steep.
Dan Quinn’s defense could having these guys looking for a new role.
Any players you see being moved around with the new defensive coaches hired? Does Reggie Robinson get moved back to cornerback? He seems to fit the big CB that Quinn’s scheme excelled with in Seattle. — MARCO ASPAAS / VANCOUVER, WA
Nick: I think that’s a very good question but probably a little bit early for this process. We haven’t even gotten to speak with Quinn and I’m not sure he’s even evaluated the entire roster yet so I think we should probably have to table that conversation for a later date. My personal thought is that Robinson would probably stay at safety. As for other positions, the biggest one would have to be how Quinn views Jaylon Smith’s role and how he can utilize him the best way.
Jonny: I think that’s the move that I’m most interested in. Robinson was just such an intriguing prospect. That said, we weren’t seeing how he looked in practice, and it’s unlikely that he wasn’t getting playing time because of some vendetta that Mike Nolan had with him. If he really looked ready, McCarthy probably would have gotten him on the field. But perhaps Quinn can shift him back to cornerback and unlock some value.
Can Leighton Vander Esch’s career be salvaged?
Two years ago, Leighton Vander Esch looked to be on the road to becoming the Cowboys’ next great linebacker. He and Jaylon Smith each had phenomenal 2018 seasons, with Vander Esch even earning Pro Bowl honors during that rookie campaign.
Since then, however, it’s been almost all downhill. While Jaylon Smith gets most of the criticism, Vander Esch has been far from perfect himself. His biggest downfall may be his injuries. Vander Esch missed 9 games with a neck issue back during his Sophomore season, and another six this year with a broken collarbone and ankle sprain.
When he has been on the field, Vander Esch has frequently lacked gap discipline. Most famously when Lamar Jackson shook the entire Cowboys defense out of their shoes for a touchdown run on that fateful Tuesday night.
After tallying 140 tackles during his Pro Bowl rookie season, Vander Esch has made 132 tackles in 19 games over the last two years. Fallen off a cliff is an understatement.
But what’s next for the young linebacker?
Biggest offseason needs for the Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, and the rest of the NFC - Mike Tanier, Pro Football Network
The Cowboys biggest offseason need.
Dallas Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s defense needs great cornerbacks — Legion of Boom-caliber, Richard Sherman-shaped cornerbacks. Anything less, and the Dallas Cowboys will end up like the 2018-2020 Atlanta Falcons on defense. The Dallas Cowboys have quantity at cornerback but dubious quality.
Trevon Diggs had a brutal rookie season. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis — who have experience in a similar scheme run by former not-quite-defensive-coordinator Kris Richard — are free agents for the Dallas Cowboys. This is a team that must reserve enough cap space to pay their franchise quarterback.
Alabama’s Patrick Surtain Jr. would be a perfect fit if he’s available with the 10th overall pick. And the Dallas Cowboys shouldn’t shy away from him just because Diggs took so many lumps. After all, what are the odds of drafting two Alabama busts in the secondary?
Three important pieces currently missing from Dan Quinn’s Cowboys defense - Terence Watson, Blogging the Boys
What does Dan Quinn need to perfect his defensive plan?
During his time with the Seahawks, Quinn had three defensive tackles all over 300 pounds with the ability to stop the run. Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniels, and Kevin Williams were able to dominate the line of scrimmage for the Seahawks during their championship run. Quinn has always seemed to put a focus on having big guys up front that have the ability to take on two blockers and eat up space in the middle, allowing others to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. It gave his defensive ends an easier time sacking the quarterback since they were being flushed out of the pocket.
The other reason was to stop the run and force teams to throw against his talented secondary “The Legion of Boom”. They ranked third in rushing yards allowed giving up 1,304 yards and second in yards per attempt with 3.4 yards per carry and gave up just eight rushing touchdowns. Compare that to the Cowboys this season who ranked 31st in yards allowed, 2,541 yards on the season, and allowing teams to rush for five yards per attempt.
Clearly, Quinn is going to be looking to fix that immediately, and to do that he needs a different style of defensive tackle the Cowboys have used in the past.
2021 free agency guide.
We Wish You Luck in Your Future Endeavors …
All of these players should be putting their homes on the market or letting their leases expire.
DT – Tyrone Crawford – Crawford made a ton of money in Dallas for little production. This is the end, my friend.
OT – Cameron Erving – At best, he’s a swing tackle which should be Brandon Knight’s role in 2021 behind Tyron Smith and Collins.
DB – C.J. Goodwin – Another player who almost exclusively contributes on special teams. The Cowboys can find someone else to do so.
S – Xavier Woods – (waves hand goodbye).
WR – Noah Brown – The top four are set. While he’s an exceptional blocker, this is a skill that can be found, if necessary to the scheme, in someone else.
WR – Malik Turner
DT – Antwaun Woods – This is tough given the Cowboys need at the position, however, Woods’ time in the rotation is now owned by Neville Gallimore and Dallas should be adding a better, younger, cheaper option in the draft.
RB – Sewo Olonilua
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