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Cowboys news: Dan Quinn and young stars have the Cowboys defense riding high

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

Dan Quinn and Dallas Cowboys’ revamped defense taking ball away, putting NFL on notice - Clarence E. Hill Jr, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Dan Quinn has transformed the Dallas defense following an abysmal 2020 campaign but the players deserve their due credit as well for an NFL-leading eight takeaways through three weeks.

With three interceptions in the first three games, Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs has set up a no-fly zone in his area of the secondary and is trying to put the league on notice.

What does he want them to know?

“That I am here,” Diggs said softly and confidently.

Diggs is definitely here and he has brought a few new friends with him on a revamped Cowboys defense that through three games in 2021 looks nothing like the abominable unit of a year ago that set a club record for points allowed and gave up the second most yards and rushing yards in franchise history.

Credit the development of second-year players like Diggs who are coming into their own.

Credit the addition of eight free agents and eight rookie draft picks, led by first-round pick Micah Parsons.

And credit the addition of new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who has been the master manipulator of it all, moving the players around like chess pieces and having them strike with fear and reckless abandon to help fuel the team’s 2-1 start.

Dan Quinn on Cowboys’ sudden surge in takeaways: ‘Go get more’ - Todd Brock, Cowboys Wire

The Cowboys’ defense caught fire late last season forcing turnovers and, under Dan Quinn the takeaways have kept coming, but Quinn isn’t satisfied.

Dallas currently leads the league with eight takeaways after three weeks. Dating back to Week 14 of last season, as David Moore of the Dallas Morning News notes, it’s been seven games straight that the team has forced two or more turnovers, the longest active streak in the NFL. It’s a remarkable reversal for a unit that found takeaways so hard to come by for much of last season.

But defensive coordinator Dan Quinn doesn’t chalk it up to lucky bounces, and he sure doesn’t subscribe to that old chestnut about turnovers coming in bunches.

“No, I don’t really accept it. It’s a good thing to say when you don’t have any: ‘Oh, they’re coming, just hang in there,’” Quinn said this week. “I say no, pedal downhill right now and go get more. There were absolutely chances for us to have the ball more [Monday]. I think this is an example of trusting your training. These guys, assistant coaches and the players, put in a tremendous amount of work on pre-practice JUGS machine, post-practice JUGS machine, ball drills, fundamental work. So I think this is a byproduct of really trusting your training.”

Mick Shots: A whole bunch of new takeaways -

Dalton Schultz is making his place among the Cowboys stars on offense.

Three games into the 2021 season, we’re starting to see the defining trends of these Dallas Cowboys. One of the most pleasant surprises thus far? Dalton Schutlz’s emergence as a legitimate weapon in the passing game.

Capt. Schultz: ’Bout time for Dalton Schultz to receive a promotion after his performance Monday night. Now remember, this didn’t come out of thin air since the fourth-year tight end stepped in for the injured Blake Jarwin last year to start 14 of 16 games and pull down 63 receptions. And after six catches for 80 yards and touchdown grabs of 19 and 22 yards against the Eagles, he now is third on the team with 14 catches for 143 yards and the two scores. Causing McCarthy to claim that when he first arrived in January of 2020, “I didn’t know a whole lot about him,” to now claiming the Cowboys have a good “one-two punch with those two guys.”

Off to a historic start, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott joins rarefied air with Tom Brady, Drew Brees - Michael Gehlken, DMN

While Dallas’s offensive attack has been more balanced the past two weeks, Dak Prescott’s overall start to the season has him in exclusive company.

The Cowboys quarterback has thrown for more than 800 yards while completing at least 77% of his passes in his team’s first three games, joining Tom Brady in 2007 and Drew Brees in 2018 as the only players in NFL history to accomplish the feat.

Brady and Brees finished first and second in MVP voting those years, respectively.

Prescott has silenced any questions as to how he’d respond from the right ankle injury that ended his 2020 season or the right latissimus strain that sidelined him from team drills during training camp for about a month.

In a Week 1 road loss, he lit up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 403 passing yards and three touchdowns with an interception. Prescott passed 58 times that week. He’s totaled 53 attempts in the two games since. In wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and Eagles, Prescott threw for 475 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and an 83.1% completion rate.

Prescott has 878 passing yards and an NFL-best 77.5% completion rate for the year.

Micah Parsons is the Cowboys rookie making headlines, but DT Osa Odighizuwa deserves more attention - Calvin Watkins, DMN

Micah Parsons rightfully is getting plenty of love on the national stage for the transformation of the Cowboys defense, but fellow rookie Osa Odighizuwa has been sensational in his own right.

It seems the Cowboys have one with Parsons, who has moved from inside linebacker to defensive end. But he’s not the only rookie that’s made an impact.

Third-round pick Osa Odighizuwa has emerged as a starter that needs mentioning.

After three games, the defensive tackle has 1 ½ sacks, seven tackles and four quarterback hits.

Odighizuwa wasn’t a projected starter like Parsons was when training camp started. He was to backup Neville Gallimore at defensive tackle and quite possibly a player to get some snaps at end. When Gallimore suffered an elbow injury in the preseason, it opened everything for Odighizuwa.

“Just in terms of guys getting injured and having to step up that helped me a lot,” he said. “Being able to go against the (first-team) and having the opportunity to get more playing time and experience. I think that is helping in my development.”

Do Cowboys have their next head coach on staff? - Charean WIlliams, PFT

The chatter about Kellen Moore continues to grow.

Dallas-Fort Worth became all aflutter after Tony Romo said he expects one of his former backups to become a head coach next season.

“Kellen Moore is going to be a head coach next year,” Romo said during the Cowboys-Chargers broadcast on CBS. “Someone is going to pick him up. I think it’s about his time.”

It’s more likely the Cowboys pay their offensive coordinator handsomely to stay as the head coach in waiting.

In 2007, the Cowboys hired Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator before they hired Wade Phillips as head coach. A year later, Garrett received offers to become the head coach of the Ravens and Falcons and turned down both. He became the Cowboys’ head coach in the middle of the 2010 season.

The Cowboys kept Moore as offensive coordinator in 2020 after hiring Mike McCarthy, who gave up play-calling duties for the first time in his head coaching career last season. (It’s anybody’s guess whether that was by choice as McCarthy was adamant in Green Bay that he would never give up play-calling duties.)

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