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Cowboys news: Dan Quinn’s work on defense has given the Cowboys championship aspirations

Your Wednesday edition of news on America’s Team.

Dallas Cowboys v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Dan Quinn’s ability to reshape the Cowboys defense has given Dallas championship aspirations - Jean-Jacques Taylor, Dallas Morning News

Quinn has done an outstanding job reshaping the Cowboys defense.

Enter Quinn, who had been fired five games into the 2019 season. He spent a year out of football doing a deep dive on himself as a coach. He thought about the things he’d change when the next opportunity arrived as a head coach or coordinator. So when McCarthy hired him, he was ready. He’s done a better job than anyone could’ve envisioned and his combination of success and personality and the Cowboys’ huge platform means he’ll get some head coaching interviews after the season.

Quinn received a game ball for the defense’s work in Sunday’s 43-3 win over Atlanta. The Falcons gained just 214 yards and went 1-of-11 on third down. Quarterback Matt Ryan had the worst passer rating of his career. The Cowboys’ defense isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough.

They allow too many big plays and the run defense as we saw a week ago against Denver can be suspect. Overall, though, the defense works because of Quinn’s imagination and vision. Look no further than Jayron Kearse, a career role player in five seasons with Minnesota and Detroit. The former seventh-round pick was a backup safety and special teams player who drew virtually no attention when he signed with Dallas. Now, he’s one of their most important players.

It’s not just the offense, the Cowboys defense is doing it, too: How Dan Quinn has turned things around – Jon Machota, The Athletic

More on how the Cowboys new DC has been a big part of the team’s turnaround.

The locker room celebration videos that are posted on the team’s official Twitter account are usually a little longer than 12 seconds. But this particular one was cut short because of the high number of expletives shared immediately following the above video “It was a very cool moment, one I was taken aback by,” Quinn said. “I don’t think (everyone) saw what I said after, so I’m pretty sure that’s why it was cut pretty quick.”

What did he say? “I can’t,” a laughing Quinn responded. “The clean version: I’m so darn excited. That was good. And they are some really tough guys.” All joking aside, the Cowboys’ dominant 43-3 win over the Falcons meant a lot to Quinn. He mentioned how “embarrassed” and “pissed” he was to be fired last season after an 0-5 start.

“So to have maybe that moment come at the end of a game,” Quinn said, “I definitely wasn’t ready for it. But man, what a good feeling to know there’s a whole army of people that got your back. That’s one of the best feelings there is in football when you’re part of a team, knowing that there are people who are like, ‘We’ve got your back. We’re here with you and fighting.’ Probably the hardest part when you’re not coaching is not being on a team, so for someone like myself, who I love being part of the team, when you’re not, it definitely gets in the way.”

5 takeaways from the Cowboys week ten demolition of the Atlanta Falcons - Aidan Davis, Blogging The Boys

What was your biggest takeaway from the blowout win?

If you regularly read these takeaway articles, you know that they avoid individual performances that don’t produce new information. But this week, a notable exception is made because Dak Prescott is officially back. After a horrendous Broncos game, it had essentially been four weeks since we had seen MVP-caliber Dak. For the most part, we all expected him to bounce back eventually. But nobody was quite expecting this performance after possibly the worst game of his career.

Dak Prescott threw for 296 yards on a 90% adjusted completion percentage, accounting for 15 first downs and scoring on 80% of his first-half drives. Dak had the best quarterback EPA per play in week ten and the third-best PFF offensive grade among quarterbacks, all while sitting out the entire fourth quarter. Dak enters right back into the MVP conversation with a spectacular performance in week ten. If you want a takeaway for this section, week nine was a complete anomaly on an otherwise record-setting year for the Cowboys quarterback.

We can all exhale a sigh of relief knowing that not only is Dak completely healthy, but he is mad about what happened against the Broncos. Sleep tight this week Cowboys fans, because Dallas’ QB1 is back in a big way.

Mailbag: Time To Make A Move At Left Guard? - Rob Phillips and David Helman, Dallascowboys.com

If the penalties continue, Connor Williams could be in danger of losing his job.

It seems pretty obvious that Connor Williams is the weak link on the offensive line. He is routinely overpowered by big defensive tackles and he leads the league in penalties. Who not give Connor McGovern a shot at left guard? — TOM ADAMS / HANOVER TOWNSHIP, PA

David: I think the coaching staff is trying to get through Tyron Smith's absence with as little change as possible, in the name of preserving some sense of continuity. But Smith should be back soon, maybe as soon as this week. When that happens, I think they understand the need to take a long look at that spot. Between Connor McGovern and potentially La'el Collins, they have options to create competition at the position.

Rob: To Dave's point, Mike McCarthy referenced the healthy competition on the line again Monday, so we'll see what happens moving forward. Collins has taken guard reps and obviously started there in the past. The Cowboys feel like McGovern is a starting-caliber player, too, even though his role has been mostly spot duty at fullback and he's probably more comfortable at right guard than left. I will say McCarthy's preference is always line continuity over making a bunch of changes. But there's a lot of games left.

CB Jourdan Lewis Shines in Win vs Falcons - Matthew Lenix, Inside The Star

Jourdan Lewis had one of his best games as a Cowboy on Sunday.

The former Michigan Wolverine put the cherry on top early in the fourth quarter. Lewis intercepted backup Quarterback Josh Rosen, his second of the season which tied his single-season high of two from 2019. Lewis’s 94.5 grade according to Pro Football Focus was the highest for all Cowboys defenders and his best in any single game of his career. He was targeted five times but only allowed one reception for no gain. Lewis also tied a single-game career-high with his three pass breakups (did it twice as a rookie in 2017).

The Cowboys are tied for second with 14 interceptions which have led to a plus-five turnover differential, the sixth-best in the NFL. Lewis told the media during a postgame interview that the performance of the defense on Sunday was the standard that they should play at, and something they have been focused on doing since the beginning of the offseason program.

“It’s just the standard,” Lewis said. “I mean, that’s what we’re supposed to do. That’s supposed to happen. We’re supposed to take the ball away, fly around on defense and play how we did today.

Race for the NFC’s top seed: Tracking the Cowboys’ chances for a first-round playoff bye - Damon Marx, Dallas Morning News

Taking a look at how Week 10 impacted the Cowboys’ chances for a first-round bye.

The Cowboys have a commanding three-game lead in the win column in the NFC East standings. At this point, just beyond the halfway juncture of the expanded 17-game schedule, it would take an epic collapse for Dallas not to claim the postseason berth that comes with winning the division title.

In fact, the New York Times’ playoff machine lists Dallas with a 93% chance to win the East, with a 97% chance to qualify for the postseason. So let’s turn our attention to the NFC playoff outlook and the race for the conference’s top seed. Remember, under the expanded playoff format, only the No. 1 seeds in each conference receive a first-round playoff bye. The other six teams face off on wild-card weekend.

Currently, the Cowboys (7-2) would qualify as the third seed out of the NFC. NYT gives Dallas a 17% chance to claim the first-round bye. Here’s an updated glance at the NFC playoff picture (with NYT’s odds for each team claiming the top seed):

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