After missing out on Earl Thomas, the Dallas Cowboys once again failed to address their continued lack of interceptions for the fourth straight year.
For more than a year, the Dallas Cowboys courted with the idea of adding All-Pro safety Earl Thomas to their roster. And a failed attempt to trade for the Seattle Seahawks defender during the 2018 NFL Draft, the stars seemed to align when Thomas hit free agency this offseason.
But the Cowboys were apparently unwilling to pay Thomas the type of monies he could get elsewhere and the six-time Pro Bowler inked a four-year, $55 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens instead.
Yet, the Cowboys appeared unfazed despite missing out on adding a future Hall of Famer to their secondary. Dallas signed veteran safety George Iloka in free agency instead and waited until the sixth round of the 2019 draft to select Texas A&M safety, Donovan Wilson. Neither one is expected to unseat either Xavier Woods or Jeff Heath as starters when the new season kicks off in September.
And despite their pursuit of Thomas, the Cowboys seem more than satisfied to start the new year with Heath and Woods at the helm. The fact is this same duo was part of last year’s defense in Dallas that many considered to be elite. But the end of 2018, the Cowboys’ defense ranked seventh in net total yards allowed (5,268) and tied for fifth in points allowed (20.3).
The one area this Dallas defense continues to struggle with is creating takeaways, particularly interceptions. This isn’t a new issue. In 2018 the Cowboys recorded nine total picks, which was tied for 26th in the NFL. The Boys haven’t posted more than 10 team interceptions in a season since 2014.
That’s where the addition of Thomas seemed to factor in so heavily. The 30-year old recorded three interceptions in just four games last year as a leg injury cut his season short. Two of those picks came against the Cowboys in a Week Three loss.
After losing Thomas, the Cowboys did nothing to address their lack of interceptions personnel-wise. Instead, they’ll continue to try and develop their roster hoping passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach Kris Richard can work his Legion of Boom magic on players like Heath, Woods and cornerback Byron Jones.
The Dallas Cowboys doubled-down on their philosophy that an effective pass rush will create more turnover opportunities with the selection of UCF defensive tackle Trysten Hill in the second round of the draft and the trade made for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn this offseason. Although, without the ball-hawking playmakers in the secondary to take advantage of those opportunities, the Cowboys haven’t seen a meaningful increase in interception totals in over four years.