Dallas Cowboys addition by subtraction may have promise

Jourdan Lewis, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Jourdan Lewis, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Addition by subtraction could spark promise for the Dallas Cowboys

Over the last few days the Dallas Cowboys cut ties with three outsider free agents brought in for the 2020 season. Everson Griffen (281 snaps), Dontari Poe (266 snaps), and Daryl Worley (261 snaps) all had a significant hand in the defense’s failings.

Griffen (20 tackles, 2.5 sacks) wasn’t awful, yet his production didn’t match his recent past. The scheme fit never seemed to gel and he voiced it publicly on a few occasions. Poe was a shell of himself and net negative on the field. Even before he wore the star, Poe publicly criticized owner Jerry Jones proving he was a bad culture fit.

Worley was a busted assignment waiting to happen and allowed costly points on numerous occasions. It was clear to the fan base none of these players fit in Dallas and they lacked chemistry with their defensive teammates.


These corrective actions taken to cut the outsider rot from the defense and locker room were great moves, albeit a little overdue. With the return of corner Chidobe Awuzie and linebacker Sean Lee to the defensive mix on Sunday, Dallas is shifting towards a true Cowboys defensive group.

Almost every significant player on the defense this Sunday will be a returning 2019 Cowboy or a rookie. The one starting veteran exception is Aldon Smith, who hadn’t played a down for another team since 2015. Smith found a new home in Dallas and his strong effort and play (32 tackles, 4 sacks) has proven such.

Steven Parker played 14 games (4 starts) with the Dolphins last year at safety. Though it remains to be seen if his workload will increase above a substitute and 25 snaps. So far he has shown some promise in limited action.


Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee and Joe Thomas will fill out the linebacker group together on Sunday for the first time since 2019. If Dallas rotates out Smith for Lee in known coverage downs (hopefully more than that), medium coverage could improve rapidly.

Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis are a returning Cowboys corner trio with past experience starting together. And they’re all three familiar playing with safety Xavier Woods the past three years. Yes, it’s time to sit rookie Trevon Diggs as the fourth corner.

Randy Gregory is poised to get more snaps opposite of fellow end DeMarcus Lawrence as the two did in 2018. All four defensive tackles are returning Cowboys and a drafted rookie. The unit is now shaping up as a true Cowboys bunch which surely will increase effort and cohesion.

With the return of veteran offensive linemen Zack Martin and Joe Looney on Sunday, this team has quickly become much more veteran Cowboys laden in the course of a week. The familiarity and chemistry of this reunion could pay big dividends in the light coming on in Philadelphia.

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Dallas sits a half game out of first place in the NFC East. One uplifting, unified victory behind returning talent on Sunday could ignite a fire under this team. Proof remains to be seen, but circling the true Cowboys wagon isn’t as far-fetched as it seems.