3 things the Dallas Cowboys have done to rectify their woeful defense

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Players
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Players
Adam Hulse

The Dallas Cowboys defense has made great improvements in the 2021 NFL season. They were one of the worst defenses in the league in 2020 but have come a long way since then. In 2020 the Dallas Cowboys ranked 28th in points allowed while this season they rank 19th so far. When paired with the number one ranked offense in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys are a dangerous team right now.

How the Dallas Cowboys fixed their defense

#1 - New Defensive Coordinator

In the 2019 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys were not terrible defensively. When they hired Mike McCarthy as their new head coach prior to the 2020 season, they also hired Mike Nolan to be the new defensive coordinator. He replaced the legendary Rod Marinelli. The one year experiment with Nolan was a disaster. The Dallas Cowboys defense regressed in just about every way possible.

Nolan was rightfully fired after just one season. The Dallas Cowboys hired Dan Quinn to be their new defensive coordinator this offseason. He is a huge upgrade from Nolan and it already shows in their defensive schemes. Dan Quinn was the mastermind behind the famous Legion of Boom defense in Seattle, so he has a proven track record as a defensive coach.

Cowboys DC Dan Quinn (middle) getting involved in practice. Wearing a helmet and helping the defensive line.

#2 - Forcing Turnovers

Through Dan Quinn's guidance, the Dallas Cowboys have become more aggressive defensively. They attack the ball and try to make things happen while still not being overly wreckless. As a team, the Dallas Cowboys lead the NFL with 11 interceptions this year, including seven by breakout star Trevon Diggs. They already have more than last year's full season total of ten interceptions.


Forcing more turnovers has been one of the keys to the Dallas Cowboys' all-round success this season. They have a 5-1 record so far, including an active five-game winning streak. They have the number one ranked offense in the NFL and the extra turnovers created by the defense give the offense even more opportunities. It's been a lethal formula so far.

#3 - Committing to Improvement

Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys organization realize that their window to win a Super Bowl is open. Dak Prescott is playing like an NFL MVP candidate and their offense is loaded with weapons. They have been good enough offensively to be real contenders for a few years, and are even better now, but the defense has failed them. Fixing it could bring the Dallas Cowboys to the next level they desire.

The defensive rebuilding process has been a combination of hiring Dan Quinn and adding more talent. They signed several veteran free agents that fit well in the new defensive system. They also used the most recent NFL Draft to their advantage. They used almost all of their picks on defensive players, including Micah Parsons, who looks like an emerging star. The plan appears to be working.

Edited by Henno van Deventer


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