DALLAS – The Dallas Cowboys defense was a big success in 2021. Dan Quinn pressed the right buttons and the unit flew around the field, created takeaways, and played very strong football all season long.
The Cowboys became a force at getting after the quarterback and forcing teams into turnovers. Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs both broke out in big ways en route to earning first-team All-Pro honors.
It is reasonable to expect some level of drop-off in 2022. Randy Gregory is off to the Broncos, and it remains to be seen if Diggs can have another high-volume season of interceptions.
Cowboys veteran linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has expressed confidence for the 2022 season. Dallas will count on the 2018 first-rounder to have a key role in the second level of the defense when the season arrives.
Getting into a rhythm is key for LVE
“Just getting in a rhythm, playing more,” Vander Esch said during OTAs in June. “You’re going to get that out of me if you play me the whole game.”
Parsons will continue his normal linebacker duties, and there are some high hopes for Jabrill Cox moving forward. That said, the Cowboys will need Vander Esch to stay healthy and be an important contributor for Keanu Neal off the roster.
Vander Esch has proven to be a capable player in the league, especially early on. Injuries have caused some setbacks on the field, but the former Boise State standout still has enough talent and ability to be a crucial depth and rotational piece at linebacker.
Amazing play by Leighton Vander Esch— Johnny Jones (@NFLEAGUEREPORT) June 20, 2022
Recognizes the play action, sees the crosser coming his way, flips his hips and runs even with 4.4 Speed Jalen Reagor
Forces Minshew to tuck it for 2 yards. Dead Play pic.twitter.com/FEoosNZATu
Dallas did not pick up LVE’s fifth-year option, but he did have strong moments during Dan Quinn’s first season calling the defense. Another offseason learning Quinn’s system and playing alongside Micah Parsons should only point to good things for Vander Esch in 2022.
Leighton Vander Esch believes that he still has a lot left in the tank. The Dallas Cowboys will need his confidence to translate to on-field play when the season arrives.
Featured image via Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports