Mike Evans. Chris Godwin. Antonio Brown. And of course, sir Tom Brady. The Cowboys secondary is going to have a whale of a time trying to slow down Tampa Bay’s offensive juggernaut that’s captained by the winningest quarterback in NFL history.
It’s a tall task ahead of a defense that had more than its fair share of mishaps and blunders when it came to containing the pass last year, and although the Boys’ honed in heavily on their defensive woes in the draft and free agency, there are still some major holes in their fort that need to be plugged up.
And their deficiencies in the passing game will certainly be a central focus of Bruce Arians and No. 12 as they look to chart a path towards reliving their Super Bowl glory.
One man who Tampa Bay will have their eye on: Anthony Brown.
Dallas’ longest-tenured corner received the starting nod on the team’s depth chart heading into the 2021 campaign, but he’s standing on a shaky foundation as he looks to prove his legitimacy for the position.
Brown will line up alongside second-year man Trevon Diggs as the squad’s starting corners on the outside, while Jourdan Lewis holds the role of slot corner to open the season.But the Cowboys have several young guns on their roster who are eyeing Brown’s position, and would love nothing more than to take it over as their own.
Nahshon Wright surprised onlookers at camp with a rangy athleticism and over-the-top verticality that perfectly complements Dan Quinn’s system. Maurice Canady had a stellar camp of his own, stealing numerous interceptions from his own teammates, and from opposing foes in joint practices as he solidified his own relevance in the CB fray. And though Kelvin Joseph has been hampered by injury, he too is an up-and-comer whom Dallas has high expectations for as a high-level contributor.
Which puts Brown in a bit of a sticky bind should his play begin to falter. He’s got a host of readymade contenders breathing down his neck, and Tampa Bay will be a vital test to his long-term reign with the unit. He’s on the second year of his three-year deal, and with a potential out following this season, 2021 could very well be a make or break campaign for him.
The season’s first affair is of the utmost importance — especially for his individual future. Brown’s production has ticked off in recent years (which is in large part due to injury), and he cuts a sizable chunk into Dallas’ cap space.
The average cornerback doesn’t have a long shelf life in the NFL, and Brown hasn’t proven that he’s a substantial notch above that benchmark. If he doesn’t soon, his sand in Dallas’ hourglass could be close to empty.