The Cowboys did everything they could to make significant repairs to the Defense that ended up costing them 5 games at the end of the 2011 season. Forcing them to miss the playoffs, and allowing the New York Giants to move forward, as they captured the world championship a month later.
When free agency came around in March, Dallas was quick to make some decisions in releasing cornerback Terence Newman, and not resigning players such as inside linebackers Bradie James and Keith Brooking, safety Abram Elam, and cornerbacks Alan Ball and Frank Walker.
They proceeded to use free agency to sign talent such as cornerback Brandon Carr, inside linebacker Dan Connor, and safety Brodney Pool. Of course Carr will most likely replace Newman at LCB. Connor will at least provide quality depth at inside linebacker, possibly even start depending on last year’s 2nd round selection Bruce Carter’s progress. And Pool has been penciled in as the starter at Strong Safety.
The draft came around, and the Boys even took a defensive approach selecting 5 out of 7 players for the defensive side of the ball selecting top cornerback in Morris Claiborne. After not having a 2nd round pick surrendering it to the Rams to move up 8 spots to take Claiborne, Dallas selected DE Tyrone Crawford ( 3rd round ), OLB Kyle Wilber ( 4th round (a) ), SS Matt Johnson ( 4th round (b) ), and ILB Caleb McSurdy ( 7th round ).
Head Coach Jason Garrett and Owner Jerry Jones will make sure the defense has plenty of operating tools to work with in the secondary this season. Making it harder for opposing quarterbacks to pick apart the seams, and scoring at will.
But the big question to me is, what about the quarterback pressure ? what about the defense that gave the quarterback all the time to stand in the pocket, and let him pick the secondary apart at will to begin with ?
This is kind of like a glass half full, half empty concept. Now sure the secondary is now more full of talent, two new cornerbacks that will start, one new safety with the possibility of another new safety battling him for playing time and a starting job, but what about the Front Three ?
If the Cowboys were to take the field today for a regular season game, the front three starters would most definitely consist of Jason Hatcher at left end, Jay Ratliff at nose tackle, and Kenyon Coleman at right end.
The rotation would most likely be Sean Lissemore coming in for Hatcher, Josh Brent coming in for Ratliff, and Marcus Spears coming in for Coleman. Basically the same guys that couldn’t find the quarterback last season if you would have handed them a map and a flashlight.
With the exception of Tyrone Crawford being drafted, this has been the only change that was made during free agency or the draft. No big nose tackle was considered, and with soon to be 31 year old Jay Ratliff manning the nose once again at 6′-4″ 287lbs., this defense may end up being an average defense with a good secondary.
Now we all know that Rome wasn’t built in one day, and there has been a significant change in the secondary, but in theory, I just have a bad feeling this front 3 is going to become the offensive line, and secondary of 2012 if you know what I mean.
Crawford may become a force on the right side, so this is a positive. But until the Cowboys get themselves a big pass rushing mountain in the middle, this front 3 will only be as average as the players that form it.