1 worrying trend of Cowboys defense Dan Quinn must fix before playoffs

Sep 10, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) carries
Sep 10, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) carries / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys defense is off to a historic start this season, and the legend could grow this weekend against the lowly Arizona Cardinals.

Through two games, Dan Quinn's unit ranks first in pressure percentage and second in contested-target percentage, per PFF. In terms of traditional stats, Dallas is tops in points allowed, yards allowed per game, sacks, turnover differential and interceptions.

Those numbers suggest the Cowboys have the NFL's top defense. The San Francisco 49ers might have something to say about that, but Dallas is currently no worse than second in that regard and could cement itself as the clear No. 1 if they maintain this level of dominance into October.

In short, this has the look of a Super Bowl defense, but there's one worrying trend from the first couple games that Quinn must iron out.

The concern? Containing mobile QBs when they take off and run, as John Owning of Pro Football Focus pointed out during Week 2.

Cowboys defense has had trouble stopping scrambling QBs.

This has been a popular (and sensitive) topic of conversation in the Cowboys community. In Week 1, the Giants found success on the first drive when Daniel Jones scrambled. Designed run or otherwise, Dallas offered little resistance when the former No. 6 overall pick abandoned the pocket.

That changed when Jones was forced to drop back to pass, but it's worth pondering how the Cowboys would have adjusted to the QB's scrambling ability if the game wasn't out of reach by halftime.

Similarly in Week 2, the only time Quinn's unit showed vulnerability was at the end of the first half when Zach Wilson took off with his legs. The Cowboys defense held firm and forced the Jets into a field goal, but most of Wilson's 36 rushing yards (on 7.2 YPC) came on that drive.

Like Jones, Wilson capitulated in the second half when he had to throw, but it was obvious to anyone watching that Dallas didn't have an answer for his scrambling ability.

We hate to come off as smug, but this is the best Cowboys defense fans can remember. It's only natural to be nit-picky and demand (close to) perfection, especially when the team itself has Super Bowl expectations.

If Dallas is to reach the mountain top, they'll have to stop athletic QBs like Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen.

Luckily, there's plenty of time before the playoffs and the Cowboys will be tested in the regular season against the likes of Hurts, Jones (again), Allen, Sam Howell (twice) and Bryce Young.

Again, it's not a huge concern. But teams have definitely taken note that this is one way to exploit what is otherwise a defensive juggernaut.

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