The Dallas Cowboys defense has yet to reach its peak

Dallas Cowboys (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Dallas Cowboys (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Dallas Cowboys
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For as long as I could remember, the Dallas Cowboys fielded a dominant offense that got dragged down by poor defensive play. Thankfully, it appears the team has finally turned things around. While they have shocked the NFL almost halfway through the season, the group will continue to improve as the year goes on. It’s only a matter of time.

The Dallas Cowboys defense through Week 8

The Cowboys’ 2020 defense was historically bad. The 473 points given up was the most in franchise history by 37 points. It resulted in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s departure after only one season.

This season, the team had the expectations to take a significant step forward. The team added a plethora of defensive weapons, including a new defensive coordinator in Dan Quinn. At the same time, you can’t get any worse than they were.

If I were to describe the Cowboys’ defense in one sentence, it would be this. We’ll give you some hope, only to take it away. Here is where the team’s defense ranks for various stats.

  • Total Yards Against: 2565 yards (11th)
  • Total Points Against: 162 points (T-8th, Cincinnati Bengals)
  • Passing Yards Against: 1945 yards (T-18th, Jacksonville Jaguars)
  • Passing Touchdowns Against: 13 TDs (18th)
  • Rushing Yards Against: 618 yards (4th)
  • Rushing Touchdowns Against: 5 TDs (T-6th, New England Patriots)
  • Takeaways: 14 (T-3rd, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers)
  • Sacks: 12 (T-28th, Miami Dolphins)

The stats back up the philosophy I stated. The Cowboys will give up a good amount of yardage but will not give up points. One way they avoid giving up points is by taking the ball away. Statistically speaking, they have an above-average defense. The lack of pass-rushing and poor pass defense from the linebackers and low safeties is dragging the team down.

Only six players contributed to the team’s sack total, with Randy Gregory (5.0) having the largest share. Only two defenders have 10+ quarterback pressures to their name, which is not enough. There must be someone that can help fix this on the team, right?

Keanu Neal, Jayron Kearse, Micah Parsons, and Leighton Vander Esch have given up a ton of completions. All of them are allowing north of a 70 percent completion percentage. Neal allowed all 11 passes thrown his way to get caught, and LVE owns an 87.5 percent completion percentage. That’s all while giving up more than ten yards per completion.

Parsons and Kearse are well below those numbers. They both hang just north of a 70 percent completion percentage and 8.5 yards per completion. While it’s not always a good excuse, having notable players on the defense does play a role in the group not playing to their top potential. Their return will improve an already stud defense.