One month into the NFL season and look at the Dallas Cowboys defense. No longer are they atrocious on the defensive side of the ball. It’s the way they’re doing it that is more shocking. This Cowboys defense is creating turnovers in ways we haven’t seen from them in a while. But I’ll warn you, Cowboys fans. Please don’t fall into the same trap you fall into every time they have a great start to the season. You know how this always ends; in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Yes, Dan Quinn’s defense is looking good so far through the first four games of the season. Good enough to help them to a 3-1 record. I still want to see more out of them and see how well the defense continues to play because I’m not ready to crown them just yet.
But what this Cowboys defense has proven so far is that Quinn is still a good football coach, and he just isn’t quite head coach material. At least not right now. The Cowboys are second in the NFL in takeaways (10) through four games, and Trevon Diggs has really shown out, snagging five interceptions.
I’m still not completely ready to buy into this Cowboys defense, especially since they are still giving up a lot of yards. That bend but don’t break strategy works well until it doesn’t. The Cowboys’ three-game win streak has come against young quarterbacks. Justin Herbert (23), Jalen Hurts (23), and Sam Darnold (24). Darnold is in his fourth year, but he played with the Jets the previous three, so he might as well be considered a rookie. Herbert and Hurts are both in year two of their NFL careers. As good as Herbert has been for the Chargers, there are still times when he looks like a young QB still trying to figure certain things out on the field.
In the season opener against the veteran Tom Brady, this Cowboys defense gave up 379 yards passing. By far the most so far this season. It came against a more experienced QB. But I will give them credit for forcing two Brady INTs. But they still gave up all those yards and lost the game 31-29. That game against Brady and Tampa Bay is the kind they’ll have to play in the postseason. We know the Cowboys usually find a way to lose these games when they matter most. After the game, Dak Prescott told Brady they’d see them later, and I’m not sure if Dallas wants that necessarily.
Maybe Dak was talking about seeing them on the golf course later. Who knows? There’s still a lot of season left to play, but I need to see the Cowboys defense against a couple more well-established QB’s in this league before I go nuts about how much better they are. The Cowboys travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes in Week 11. The following week they get the Raiders and Derek Carr back in Dallas. I’ll be paying close attention to those games against veteran QB’s to see what this Dallas defense is really about. Luckily for the Cowboys, they don’t have too many of these QBs on their schedule. Their division is also full of young inexperienced QBs they get to play six times. In Week 8 they get the Minnesota Vikings, and although Kirk Cousins is playing well, they are just 1-3. But this is the type of game I can see the Cowboys goofing up and losing. The path to a division title seems clear for the Cowboys right now.
Dallas does just fine when no one expects anything of them. Well, the Cowboys of the past two decades anyway. The second any type of expectation is placed on them, they fold up like cheap lawn chairs. Of course, the regular season is important, but for the Cowboys, they’ll only prove the doubters wrong by winning in the playoffs. And by that, I mean making it to at least the NFC championship game. The Cowboys haven’t done that once during this millennium.