The Dallas Cowboys young defensive secondary will be facing more accomplished quarterbacks in 2017 compared to the prior season.
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones made a decision about the secondary after witnessing it struggle in the playoffs. It would require substantial changes if the team was to handle offenses led by elite tier quarterbacks.
This was apparent based on the Cowboys’ being ranked 26th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game.
Since then, the Cowboys have seen the departure of four veteran cornerbacks and safeties. In their place are four rookies and a former free-agent.
Ideally, this young-blood would be given time to gradually acclimate defending against professional quarterbacks. Instead they will be asked to help carry this team to the Super Bowl.
And they will face greater challenges than the men they replaced in 2017.
With this tougher schedule comes the arrival of more accomplished quarterbacks.
Seven of the ten passers they will be facing from outside their division have made the Pro Bowl (vs. four in 2016).
Among them are former Super Bowl quarterbacks Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson, Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan, and Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers. The rest are big names, including Arizona Cardinals Carson Palmer, Kansas City Chiefs Alex Smith, San Diego Chargers Philip Rivers and Oakland Raiders Derek Carr.
The increase in quality is also reflected by the difference in average years of NFL experience. The 2017 out-of-division quarterbacks’ average rounds up to eight (vs. six in 2016).
That difference doesn’t Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz, who now has a full season under his belt and has been provided quality weapons in the passing game.
The Cowboys’ inexperienced secondary will need to pick up on the speed of the game fast to keep the Cowboys ahead in the NFC East. The good news is they have plenty of upside based on the NFL players they’ve been compared to.
They will also receive help from the veterans on the roster. Safety Byron Jones was named the MVP of the defense by a Cowboys’ Ring of Honor former player. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick has been a reliable defender when healthy. And it was recently revealed sophomore Anthony Brown stood out among all NFL cornerbacks in the last five games of the season.
Tough challenges are ahead for this defense. It will be exciting to see how well the Cowboys respond to them.