New defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni had said he wouldn’t make any major changes to the defensive unit this season, but that the changes he would make would be significant.
The changes Pasqualoni made proved to be effective. He utilized more zone defense — which allows the defensive backs to make more plays on the ball — and his defense blitzed a lot less than the Cowboys did under former coach Wade Phillips.
Another change that has been made is defensive rotation. Coach P and the Cowboys are looking more to the future and giving their younger players more playing time. Against the New York Giants, Dallas used a season high 20 players on defense. Out of the 20, 17 had at least contributed to a tackle.
The new strategy will give the younger players the valuable playing time they need to improve in their careers, as well as keep players fresh so they can keep a physical brand of D.
“The more guys you can play, the harder everybody is able to go,” interim coach Jason Garrett said. “(The reserves) snaps are important, but the fact that the other guys can stand on the sideline and catch their breath and go back into the ballgame ready to go helps us.”
Linebackers Sean Lee and Victor Butler saw their playing time increase significantly as did corners Orlando Scandrick and Bryan McCann. Granted, the corners were brought in due to injury but the game experience will be more valuable in the long run.
Two other players that helped spell the defensive line were defensive ends Jeremy Clark and Jimmy Saddler-McQueen. The two players signed as free-agents last week and played in Sunday’s game after only three days of practice.
“I got a lot of help from these guys in learning my assignments,” Clark said. “The important thing is to be in the right place. If you do that, the play will come to you.”