The Dallas Cowboys’ issues with depth and quality starters at the cornerback position have been well-documented over the years.
When the Cowboys put the combination of Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis on the field, the notion that the Cowboys’ secondary was this defense’s weakest link started to fade.
Fast forward to this season, and the 9-3 Cowboys are heading into Week 14 trying to keep pace with the 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys are now down two of their starting cornerbacks in Lewis (lisfranc injury) and now Brown (achilles), who was officially lost for the year in the midst of Sunday night’s startling 54-19 win over the bumbling Colts.
To lose such a key piece in a game like that undoubtedly hurt double.
Cowboys Injury Report: Depth chart backup plan after Anthony Brown injury
Now, the Cowboys are going to need to rely on their young cornerbacks to carry the load. So far, in our first real glimpse of him, rookie DaRon Bland has done just, filling in for Lewis with three interceptions and four passes defended this season. Without Brown, Bland will only become more crucial.
The Cowboys coaching staff — mainly defensive coordinator Dan Quinn — now must figure out the best player to outright replace Brown. He’s got a nice group of players to choose from with Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright, and Kendall Sheffield all waiting in the wings. Dallas has also gone out and signed a former second-round pick Mackensie Alexander to the practice squad.
A pretty good group of players that the Cowboys like and have been willing to stick with. Alexander is a nice insurance policy if Joseph, Wright, or Sheffield are unable to play up to the standards Quinn wants. Now, the question becomes who do the Cowboys decide to put out there?
Joseph, at the moment, seems to be the clear choice to take over Brown’s role on the defense as Bland continues to patrol the field. Dallas wouldn’t have kept him around after the criminal allegations he dealt with this offseason if they didn’t believe in his talent — talent that was very apparent during his time in college, where he was one of the only cornerbacks in the nation to slow down DeVonta Smith. His speed and ability to stay on the hips of receivers give him a very good chance of coming in and doing a good job with Brown out.
Joseph, though, will need to get better at reading his receivers, something that was apparent during the Colts game, where he gave up a touchdown and didn’t turn his head around for the football. He was in great position, but that doesn’t matter if you don’t turn and look for the football.
A lot of that will come with more reps that he will be able to get in practice against the starters. You’d better believe that Quinn and head coach Mike McCarthy are going to be running plays to that side a lot in practice in order to make sure he’s ready to play.
Once Joseph gets his confidence level back up, the swagger and solid cornerback play you saw in Kentucky will start showing back up on the field, much to the pleasure of the Cowboys coaching staff and front office.