If the Dallas Cowboys are to live up to expectations in 2022 and win the NFC East for the second consecutive year, they will need their defense to remain one of the league’s best.
But this is the NFL. Long-term defensive success is as hard to achieve as it is beating Micah Parsons on a footrace. So now, the question has become how can Dan Quinn pull that off?
After exceeding every expectation set before the 2021 season, how can he take the Cowboys to the next level?
The Doomsday Podcast, hosted by Ed Werder and Matt Mosley, had Dann Quinn on for an interview and was asked this very question.
The Cowboys’ defensive coordinator’s answer was direct. More knowledge and better communication.
“Quite honestly, I had been running the same system for eight years. So when we changed quite a bit of the package, there was some learning that went on for me too,” said Quinn.
Since his legendary Legion of Boom defense in Seattle, Quinn had been labeled a Cover 3 (zone coverage) coach. While the Cowboys’ defense featured a lot of single-high safety looks under Quinn in 2021, this time it was mostly Cover 1 (man coverage).
In fact, the Cowboys played man coverage at the third-highest rate in the NFL, per Sports Info Solutions. A big change from previous Dan Quinn defenses.
This season, the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator has changed things up in the teaching process as well, even getting players involved in the teaching of the defensive concepts.
“This spring I thought there were some breakthroughs in the teaching side,” observed Quinn.
That should lead to improved communication on defense. The Cowboys unit featured speed on the field. One of the things that jumped out of the TV when tuning in to watch Dallas was how players were flying on the field.
Sometimes it was Micah Parsons off the edge. Others it was Jayron Kearse coming in from the backside to make a tackle. Or a defensive back speeding downfield for a big hit.
Speed became somewhat of the identity for the Cowboys’ defense. Quinn expects that to grow in 2022.
“I’m hopeful as we’re heading into the practices you hear sharper, faster communication. And where you can almost unconsciously go faster because of that knowledge of the system.”
Dan Quinn has always been regarded as a great teacher. At the end of the day, that’s what a coach is. If Cowboys fans are looking for optimism regarding how the defense will sustain their success from last year, that might be the biggest reason to have high hopes.
Listening to Dan Quinn talk football is just plain awesome, by the way. I’d recommend listening to the full interview here.
Featured image via Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports