The Dallas Cowboys’ defense is going to require strong coaching and development from its most promising players if it hopes to overcome free agency losses.
If you’re a believer of the old football cliche, “defense wins championships”, it’s understandable to feel anxious about the Dallas Cowboys‘ defense. After one week of free agency, it’s beginning to look like a shell of its former self.
It would be a mistake to write-off these departures as low-impact losses. While they weren’t consistent playmakers, they performed capably in their roles. Carr, Claiborne, Church, and Wilcox were part of the best secondary in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. Many people don’t know Church was a team captain for three consecutive years. McClain was considered a big part of Dallas’ top ranked run defense.
They aren’t irreplaceable, but the Cowboys haven’t done enough to address their losses in free agency. The recent signing of defensive tackle Stephen Paea provides much needed help along the defensive line, but the secondary is still dangerously thin in depth.
The acquisition of cornerback Nolan Carroll doesn’t change the fact the Cowboys will be relying heavily on injury-prone veteran Orlando Scandrick and 2016 sixth round pick Anthony Brown in the secondary. The only plausible replacements to Church at safety currently on the roster are the unproven Kavon Frazier and long-time backup Jeff Heath.
One of the most revealing metrics that highlights the Cowboys’ defensive deficiencies is the amount of cash they are spending on the unit. As of now, they are 30th in the NFL in total cash dollars spent on the defense’s full roster, per Spotrac (cash dollars referring to the money received by players during the season). Last year they were 19th in that measure.
The main takeaway from all of this is that the team’s fans should focus less on the defense improving upon 2016 and more about matching it. The lack of resources Dallas has invested in the unit over the years is culminating to some serious issues that force the offense to be more of a driver to the team’s success.