8 Cowboys off to disappointing starts eight weeks into the 2023 season

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Jayron Kearse, S

Once upon a time, Kearse was the quintessential Dan Quinn success story. The journeyman safety came to Dallas a fringe roster player looking for one more chance to carve out a role in the NFL. He immediately found a place on the Cowboys defense, serving as Quinn’s chief playmaker in the box.

Part safety/part linebacker, Kearse made plays all over the Cowboys defense. He could lock down TEs and fill his run fits with equal effectiveness. His play in Year 1 with Quinn translated to a new two-year deal prior to the 2022 season.

After a decent season marred with nagging injuries and admittedly up-and-down play, Kearse was expected to rebound in 2023 and better resemble his 2021 self than his 2022 version. Instead, he’s in the midst of arguably his worst season in Dallas and has struggled both physically and mentally through the first eight weeks.

Kearse has struggled in his run fits and has fallen considerably short on his coverage reputation from the slot. The further he plays from the line of scrimmage, the more issues he’s had executing assignments. As a veteran leader, he’s slipped in nearly all areas and is now seemingly behind both Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson as safeties.

To make matters worse, Kearse has seven penalties in just eight games, averaging nearly one penalty per game. He’s been good at limiting yards after the catch but is giving up an 85 percent completion rate when targeted.