Last year, the Dallas Cowboys defense was the worst it has been in the team’s existence. They had little pass rush, and were picked apart through the air. The only place to go from there was up. Assuming that they can stay away from injuries and get a little more consistency, they will be a top-10 defense during the 2014 NFL season.
Many believe that since the defense performed poorly last year, they had no talent, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s simple, once these players get adequate experience and can stay healthy, they will be a strong unit.
The defense is filled with talented players who have underperformed to this point. Players like Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, Barry Church, Morris Claiborne, Sean Lee and Anthony Spencer provide veteran leadership.
They also have young talent trying to mesh themselves into the team, like Kyle Wilber, George Selvie, Bruce Carter, Matt Johnson, Jeff Heath,Tyrone Crawford, B.W. Webb, and J.J. Wilcox.
They’ll also have free-agent acquisition Henry Melton, Jeremcy Mincey and draft pick DeMarcus Lawrence to pump new life into the current group.
This all looks good on paper but many teams go through times where they battle off the injury bug. Tyrone Crawford tore his Achilles tendon and didn’t play at all last year, Sean Lee has missed 18 games over his four-year career, Henry Melton is coming off a torn ACL, and Anthony Spencer played in one game last year before being put on the shelf with a knee injury which required micro-fracture surgery.
This year the Cowboys have some depth, which will allow them to rotate a lot of players in and out. This will help them out tremendously as the season rolls on. If they get production from all these players, it reduces the amount that any player has to be on the field. No solid team can depend on just a few guys. There is such a demand put on the body during the course of a season, and nobody can make it through without suffering some sort of setback.
The defensive line is pivotal for the success of the the defense next season. The ability for the defensive line to control their individual matchups will make it easy on the linebackers. The linebackers won’t have to make as many plays which will keep Sean Lee on the field. If the line also gets pressure on the quarterback then it reduces the time the secondary has to cover their men.
I think the secondary has been criticized unfairly. Each player who was called upon last year showed flashes of great athleticism and solid all-around play. Rod Marinelli is a great defensive mind and there is no doubt that he will get the best out of these players. There is only so much he can do with a depleted roster.I look for a defensive transformation for the Cowboys next year.
With Marinelli in control, the Cowboys will make a solid improvement next year and build off of that for years to come. Soon fans will see last season as a small blip on the radar. The Dallas defense will eventually be feared much like the Chicago Bears defense which Marinelli played a key role in.