Mandatory Credit: Photo by Adam Hunger/AP/Shutterstock (12656350ke) Dallas Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse (27) defends against the New York Giants during an NFL football game, in East Rutherford, N.J Cowboys Giants Football, East Rutherford, United States – 19 Dec 2021
The Cowboys knew coming into the 2021 season that they were going to have a smothering defense, believing that they would continue to pressure opponents into mistakes behind the play, and leadership, of Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence.
Over the first four weeks of the season, this team has given no reason not to believe.
Since the arrival of Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator before the start of last season, the defense has steadily climbed the ladder of the league’s top ranked units.
The Cowboys’ brain trust, mainly Jerry and Stephen Jones, believed they would add, what had been, one of the top offenses in the NFL for a few seasons to a now dominating defense and make a push for something that has eluded this organization since 1995 – a deep playoff run.
And while they were right on the defense, they were wrong on the offense.
The defense has continued to take steps forward, behind the play of cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown, safeties Malik Hooker and Jayron Kearse, defensive tackles Osi Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna and a healthy Leighton Vander Esch at linebacker.
Diggs, the NFL’s 2021 interception leader with 13, already has two picks this year, while the Cowboys have racked up 15 sacks as a team in the four games.
Quinn has pushed all the right buttons, including in Sunday’s win over Washington. The Cowboys allowed just 10 points, while frustrating quarterback Carson Wentz on over half his 45 drop backs.
Quinn has the defense playing at a level that hasn’t been seen around these parts since maybe 1992, when the Cowboys finished with league’s top ranked unit thanks to the play of guys like Charles Haley, defensive tackles Tony Casillas and Russell Maryland, linebackers Robert Jones and Ken Norton Jr. and defensive backs Larry Brown and Darren Woodson.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for this year’s version of the offense and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
With so many new faces in the lineup, the offense looks to have regressed into something that is hardly recognizable compared to what has been the norm since Dak Prescott took over as the starting quarterback.
Fans can thank the Jones family for that.
In the offseason, the Cowboys decided changes were in order.
So, they dealt away their top receiver and then let another major contributor at the position walk through free agency.
They then chose to go younger and with less experience on the offensive line, where they currently have three new starters, including a rookie at left tackle.
That kind of inexperience was inevitably going to affect both the running and passing games, and that has proven true through four weeks. Both seem to have struggled at different times.
But because of a defense that continues make big plays, puts continuous pressure on the quarterback and swarms to the ball, the Cowboys are 3-1, tied for the lead in the NFC East at 2-0 with Philadelphia and trip to face the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams on tap for Sunday afternoon.