Dallas Cowboys coach Dan Quinn is staying put due to his “Unfinished business,” as told CowboysSI.com on Thursday afternoon.
And the big part of that “business,” now that Mike McCarthy’s top aide is sticking at The Star? Build an even better defense.
Despite Quinn and the ‘Boys again showing defensive improvements, leading the league in takeaways for the second straight year while boasting an often ferocious pass rush on the way to a 12-5 regular-season mark, Dallas still has some holes.
Three areas in need of help …
Arguably the biggest need for the Cowboys is adding quality at cornerback. Injuries to Anthony Brown (who is now a free agent) and Jourdan Lewis, both starters, tested the depth of the Cowboys’ secondary.
Judging by the numerous additions to the practice squad of veteran corners, the depth in the room failed the test. But it wasn’t all bad; the Cowboys did find out a breakout standout in DaRon Bland, who filled in for Lewis as the slot corner before being moved to the outside.
While Bland was fine in both roles, the Cowboys should still target a full-time cornerback opposite Trevon Diggs. Oh, and they should continue to urge Trevon to tackle just a bit.
On the surface, having Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence is having a lot. But a drop-off in sack production and a struggle to set the edge versus the run highlights an issue or two …
Dallas did find production out of Dorance Armstrong, whose 8.5 sacks ranked second on the club. But he struggled as a run defender. Pro Football Focus gave Armstrong a grade of 57.3 versus the run, the second-worst for Dallas among edge defenders.
Sam Williams and others will eventually help here. But Dallas has a reputation for wanting to college edge guys; we bet Quinn and company will look to do it again.
Interior run-stopping was an issue that the Cowboys identified before the trade deadline and addressed by acquiring veteran nose tackle Johnathan Hankins via a swap with Las Vegas Raiders.
Hankins’ contract expires this offseason, and maybe Dallas brings him back. Assuming the veteran is re-signed, Dallas will need another tackle to pair with him. … and we can argue that it might be time to make a true commitment to a position that has often, cap-wise, been an afterthought at The Star.
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