Ladies and gentlemen, we are back. The Dallas Cowboys kick-off their season against the defending Super Bowl Champs and, other than Dak Prescott, all eyes are on new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
The Buccaneers are returning all 22 starters and appear to be poised for another title run. Squaring off against a seven time Super Bowl champion could make for the most arduous test of the year for a brand new defense.
Dallas walks into Tampa as a steep underdog but there are a few keys Dallas needs to capitalize on to sink the Bucs’ ship.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 9, 2021
1. Get Off the Field
A lot easier said than done. Tom Brady is going to try to take the heart out of this defense with slow methodical drives. When Dallas gets Tampa to third and medium to long situations, they have to take advantage.
For a squad looking to redeem the catastrophic season from a year ago, it could be easy for them to lose belief in themselves early. According to Pro Football Reference, Dallas ranked No. 29 on third down in 2020. This is a revamped defense with a new commander at the helm so it’s a little unfair to compare last year’s defense with this one, nonetheless something to keep in mind tonight.
The weakest position group for the defending Super Bowl Champions has to be the offensive line and that has to be the point of attack. Dallas has an extremely young and inexperienced secondary that needs help. If Dallas gets no pressure, Brady will pick this team apart.
Expect Quinn to dial up some blitzes to make the 44-year-old uncomfortable in the pocket. Tampa has a variety of different weapons to use, it will not take very long for someone to find open space. Getting pressure will contain the big plays and keep everything going underneath.
3. Find Your Mojo
For those that did not watch HBO’s Hard Knocks, head coach Mike McCarthy defines a Mojo moment as a “time for additional confidence, charisma and performance.” No matter the time, the place or the situation, kick in your mojo.
Again, this defense is youthful. Although, this unit has shown signs of grit and scrappiness, I expect to see some growing pains early this year. Making big plays will generate confidence. An early sack, turnover, or even a three-and-out could spark this defense.
It’s been eight months since the Dallas Cowboys played a meaningful football game. The countdown is over, enough talk, let’s play football.