Today, the Dallas Cowboys are 2nd in takeaways (12), 2nd in turnover differential (+7) and have the most interceptions in the NFL (10). The main reason why there has been so much celebration surrounding this defense.
Compared to the 2020 season when the team finished with 23 takeaways, 13 were interceptions, on a -3 differential. It’s completely understandable why there’s so much excitement.
But can this be sustained?
The Cowboys have already experienced first hands that turnovers won’t be enough to beat some of the elite offenses in the league. Their first 2 games of the season were against QBs Tom Brady, Justin Herbert and two of the best offenses in the NFL.
While they were able to create turnovers in both games, they lost the first one and nearly lost the second. There in lies the issue.
The Cowboys remaining schedule of quarterbacks has only a few eye openers:
- Mac Jones
- Kirk Cousins
- Teddy Bridgewater
- Matt Ryan
- Patrick Mahomes
- Derek Carr
- Jameis Winston
- Taylor Heinicke (?)
- Daniel Jones
- Taylor Heinicke
- Kyler Murray
- Jalen Hurts
Names like Murray or Mahomes are obvious high-end quarterbacks, but most of the team’s they’ll play are on the lower end of the league. If the schedule plays out like it should, the Cowboys will win the NFC East and make the playoffs.
There are no bad teams in the playoffs. Especially if you’re the Cowboys who’ve given up the 8th most yards and 3rd most yards per play.
The Cowboys have done a great job of creating turnovers, but the best teams will find ways to keep the ball. In the playoffs, they won’t play quarterbacks like Hurts or Jones, who have a high turnover probability.
It will be quarterbacks like Brady, Stafford, Murray and Rodgers. Quarterbacks who are smart and won’t force the ball into unnecessary situations and protect the ball.
It’s fun to keep track of Trevon Diggs and how many interceptions he’ll get in a row. It’s even more satisfying to see forced fumbles on strip sacks as it means they’re getting to the quarterback and not just picking on him, but they need to fine-tune their entire game.
The good news is they stop the run and reek havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
The Dallas Cowboys are applying pressure to every quarterback they play and are the 5th best rushing defense. In fact, they have 55 pressures on the season despite only 9 sacks so far. Those pressures will create more interceptions but not as often come the postseason. The more experienced quarterbacks keep the ball on their side.
Turnovers are fun and a great way to create momentum for your team, but if this Dallas Cowboys wants to reach it’s full potential, they need to do more than rely on taking the ball away.
If they want to be a great team, they need to play complete defense. Not just rely on one thing to sustain all year.