Pick up any preseason preview you want for the 2021 Dallas Cowboys season and you’ll read something similar. You know what I’m talking about. Something along the lines of “if this team is going to make a Super Bowl run, it’ll be on the back of its offense.”
Well, the Cowboys are the #3 seed in the NFC and are legit contenders in the playoffs. And make no mistake about it, although it’s been inconsistent in the second half of the season, the Cowboys’ offense could very well show up in the postseason and meet the wild expectations they set in September and October.
But their defense is the unit that won them multiple games late in the season. Micah Parsons, Jayron Kearse, Trevon Diggs, among many other playmakers consistently showed up. Meanwhile, the playmakers on offense had on and off performances.
As they prepare to face Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys’ defense is getting ready for a unique opportunity. Taking the ball away from one of the most interception-prone quarterbacks in the NFL.
Let’s not get it twisted, though. Yes, the 49ers are the 6th seed in the conference, but they’re a tough match-up for Dallas. Kyle Shanahan has a run game that’s creative and physical. Deebo Samuel is one of the most versatile playmakers in the league. They have a talented offensive line that features one of the best left tackles in Trent Williams.
But Garoppolo will throw you the ball.
According to PFF’s numbers represented in the tweet below, the 49ers quarterback has the third-highest turnover-worthy play rate in the NFL. Said stat has the goal of taking more plays into account instead of actual interceptions in an attempt to get a more accurate picture of a quarterback’s bad throws.
Big-time throw rate vs. turnover-worthy play rate in 2021 (min. 250 dropbacks, PFF) pic.twitter.com/QwKYRb0Xzn— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) January 10, 2022
As you can see from the graphic, Jimmy G doesn’t make up for it with excellent passes, as he owns the third-lowest “big-time throw” rate.
What does this mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense? Well, if their ball-hawking success carries over to the playoffs, they should get plenty of takeaway opportunities in the Wild Card round.
The Cowboys lead the league with 26 interceptions, 11 of which are from Trevon Diggs. If you take away his picks, the team would still be at 15, which is better than 19 teams in the NFL!
As expected, the path to the Super Bowl isn’t an easy one. And facing the 49ers will be a tough task for the Dallas Cowboys on both sides of the ball. But if they can count on one thing, it might be that Jimmy Garoppolo will give them the opportunity to come up with some takeaways.
For more early thoughts on the 49ers-Cowboys newest chapter, check out my show A to Z Sports Dallas Primetime!
Featured image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports