We Need to Talk About the Cowboys Defense
Dan Quinn's unit feels like it's stuck in the past. What's the plan moving forward? And where does Micah Parsons fit in?
NFL defenses are in the midst of a cultural shift. It’s no longer enough to be excellent at one thing. You have to dabble in everything. You have to vary your fronts. You have to get creative on the back-end.
These days, there is no such thing as too much in a defensive playbook, not with all the ingrained advantages tipped towards the offense.
The top defensive minds of the moment understand this. Bill Belichick, Vic Fangio, and Brandon Staley toggle their defenses snap-to-snap and week-to-week. There is no such thing as base anymore. They will line up in nickel or dime… or big nickel or with three off-ball linebackers…. or two… or one. They will line up in Tite fronts, split fronts, or Bear Fronts. They’ll use wide 9s. They’ll stand up both outside guys. They’ll overload the front on one play, mug the A-Gaps on the next, and then sink off and play drop-eight. They’ll play 4-3 under one snap and a hybrid 3-4 look the next; Football Outsiders doesn’t even both to chart the number of 4-3…
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Read Optional to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.