Defense – the rest of the story
One note about Jaylon Smith – He wasn’t as good this year as last year, missing a bunch of tackles, especially in the toughest games. That’s very concerning considering he was signed to a huge contract in the offseason. Let’s hope he can play better next year.
DeMarcus Lawrence, Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett – Lawrence is a tough cat to analyze. Though he definitely disappointed in terms of his sack numbers (five for the season), he’s still one of the best defenders Dallas has.
For a defensive end, he’s great against the run, and he never stops pursuing. (Plus, he’s a quote machine!) Still, I’d like to see more sacks from him next year.
Robert Quinn, though, more than made up for Lawrence’s shortcomings, totaling 11.5 sacks on the season. He was in the backfield all season. And Bennett contributed four more after the Cowboys acquired him at the midseason. If he’d played for them at that level all season, he’d have made eight sacks, which would be excellent.
The Cowboys should try to sign them both for the 2020 season. They might not be able to. Quinn might be too expensive, and Bennett might retire. But they should try. Without Quinn in particular, the Cowboys could have a real problem next year.
Cornerbacks: The story on coverage was pretty much the same this year as last year. Byron Jones was great. Chidobe Awuzie wasn’t. Anthony Brown was solid. But none of them could make any interceptions.
Plus, as great as Jourdan Lewis was off the bench and in the slot, he’s not perfect as a deep cover cornerback. He got beat a few times last Sunday, and was embarrassed at least once.
I’m very worried about what the Cowboys’ coverage might look like next year if Byron Jones leaves in free agency. I sure hope the Cowboys can find a way to sign him. But they still need to draft another cornerback. Awuzie just isn’t getting it done.
Defensive Coaches: To me, the Cowboys’ defensive woes this year point to problems in the coaching department. Jason Garrett wasn’t the only underperforming coach on the Dallas sidelines.
Pounding the table for someone’s firing isn’t really my thing. So I’ll just say this: Defensive coaching has to be better for Dallas next year. And I think this necessitates a change in philosophy.