Cowboys Red Flag No. 4 – Lack of Quality DT Depth
This problem was a carry-over from the 2020 season. Under former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, the Dallas defense was ranked 31st in the league, allowing an average of 158.8 yards per game. That’s not a winning formula for any team and was an historically bad mark for the Cowboys.
GM Jerry Jones and the front office wanted to sign proven defensive tackles. Still, after being jaded in 2020 by defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, Jones was unwilling to put significant capital towards that position in free agency.
Instead, they signed Carlos Watkins and Brent Urban and drafted Osa Odighizuwa from UCLA. All three players were not highly regarded, but were brought in for their upside and potential. Then, in the preseason, starter Neville Gallimore injured his elbow and would be ruled out for months.
With DT Trysten Hill recovering from ACL surgery and Gallimore out, the defensive tackle spot was fragile to start the season. Watkins and Odighizuwa were thrust into the starting lineup, and nothing changed. Now, Odighizuwa played well for the Cowboys this season, and Watkins was underrated at times, but there needed to be more to stop a run-heavy team like the 49ers.
Against the Denver Broncos in Week 9, the Dallas defense displayed their kryptonite to the rest of the league, which was the inability to stop the run, allowing 190 rushing yards. Now, run defense is more than just defensive tackles. However, it is the position to set the tone against the run. Dallas was taking a chance this season by not adding playmakers at that position, and on Sunday, it caught up to them when San Francisco rushed for 169 yards.