The 2020 football season was one rife with shock and catastrophe around every corner for the Dallas Cowboys. Untimely injuries plagued their playoff efforts, while coaching shortcomings left the team in an utter diminutive state in comparison to opposing counterattacks. And don’t even get me started on the defense.
Yes, the past consummation of football for Dallas was downright poor in so many ways. Ways that, in all honesty, are far too plentiful to fully delve through. But it wasn't an entirely porous display from a squad that’s hopeful for a complete 180-degree transition to their fortunes heading into to next year.
And the areas in desperate need of improvement are abundantly bounteous: offensive line play, linebacking, secondary, etc.
The last of these (secondary) will be a prime focus of Jerry Jones and his checkbook come offseason time, and there is a slew of recently liberated defensive backs that will beckon the inquiries of many NFL GM’s – including Jones himself.
But while impending free agents will garner massive attention, Dallas has a few returning stalwarts that will command a solid payday come contract time. One of those is a man whom little to few could’ve envisioned taking over a substantial role for the team on defense: Donovan Wilson.
Wilson has taken a certain liking to the football that bears his name in the few instances of playing time he’s been given thus far. Like a magnet to a fridge, he just always seems to draw close to the pigskin, and that’s led to countless takedowns and pass disruptions.
Not only is Wilson a reliable tackler, he's a high-volume playmaker and jarring striker. In fact, three Wilson-led collisions elicited forced fumbles this past season, and two of those came in the same game vs. Minnesota (including a pad-cruncher against Dalvin Cook that can still be heard ‘round the world).
What a massive hit by Donovan Wilson on Dalvin Cook pic.twitter.com/FtWHQGR9Lo— Sam Hooper (@SamJ_Hooper) November 22, 2020
Simply put, he’s a pursuing machine, and that’s what made it nearly impossible to strip him of his starting duties once he was handed the keys to the job in Week 5.
He was awarded the new role after a dazzling display vs. Cleveland the week prior, in which he posted 10 total tackles and a devastating hit on Baker Mayfield while on the field for 93% of his team’s snaps.
And from there, looking back wasn't even a question for #37.
Mirrors expunged, Wilson rode the fast lane in his brand new automobile to a wondrous checkered-flag performance on the year: 71 tackles (48 solo), 3.5 sacks, three pass deflections and two interceptions, all the while rounding out his impressive campaign by playing in 100% of Dallas’ defensive snaps four of their last five outings.
He’ll turn 26 in February, and has a ton of good football ahead of him as he looks to seize full control of the Cowboys’ deep secondary.
There are some loose facets of his game he’ll need to tighten (mostly in coverage and field positioning vs. the pass), but all indications point to a glaring green “go” signal as Wilson’s career begins to take flight.