1. The Cowboys defense isn’t perfect but is much improved
The Cowboys defense isn’t elite by any means. There are still plenty of things that this defense has to clean up like allowing big plays.
Last season, the Cowboys’ biggest downfall was allowing big plays, especially through the air. They allowed 51 passing plays of 20+ yards and 11 of 40+ yards. However, this season, Dallas is on pace to be worse in both categories. Through just 12 games, the team has allowed 50 passing plays of 20+ yards and 10 of 40+ yards. They are also giving up 11.7 yards per completion, the third-worst in the league.
Giving up big plays could hurt this team come playoff time. Quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady know exactly how to pick apart defenses like this. However, it hasn’t all been terrible for the Cowboys’ defense this season.
For starters, their run defense has been a whole lot better than a season ago. Last year, Dallas ranked 31st allowing 158.8 rush yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry. This season, they are allowing 111.1 rush yards per game on 4.5 yards per carry, all without two-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence.
Although they are allowing big plays, they are getting stops and preventing teams from getting into the endzone. After giving up a franchise-record 29.6 points per game last season, they now ranked 10th this season in points allowed per game (22.3).
Another key improvement for this defense is takeaways. More importantly, interceptions have been a big success in 2021. The Cowboys are tied for the most interceptions in the league with the Patriots with 19.
This is in large part is due to cornerback Trevon Diggs. The former second-round pick has taken a huge step up in his game this season. He currently leads the league with nine interceptions. His ball hawk instincts and hands make him such a difference-maker for this defense. Overall, this defense has looked much better than last season. It isn’t always perfect, but defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has done a phenomenal job of getting his guys ready every week.