The Dallas Cowboys defense went from horrible to decent in rapid fashion in 2021, thanks to a 1st round dynamic stud draft pick in Micah Parsons, the development of CB Trayvon Diggs and the arrival of new DC Dan Quinn. We led the league in TOs and became a dynamic force at times. Our defense was arguably the most improved defense in the NFL last season.
But it was not without flaws or areas of improvement. So how good was the D last year and how can it be even better in a season where it may need to carry the team with lots of new faces on offense?
Here’s how the Cowboys D ranked last yr in some key areas both positive and negative:
POSITIVE AREAS IN 2021
- Ranked #1 in Takeaways with 34.
- Ranked #7 in points allowed, avg. 21.1 pts per game. (IMO, the most important defensive stat)
- Ranked #1 in INTs with a whopping 26 INTs.
- Ranked #2 in 3rd down conversion rate at 34.7 (was 49% in 2020!)
- Ranked #9 in TDs passes given up with 24.
- Ranked #9 First downs surrendered with 327.
NEGATIVE 2021 STATS
- Ranked #31 in penalties
- Ranked #27 in first downs given up by penalty.
- Ranked #22 in Yards per play (5.5 yds per play)
- Ranked #18 in Total Yards per game (an overrated stat IMO)
- Ranked #20 in Rushing yards per game (116)
- Ranked #23 in Rushing yards per attempt. (4.5 yds per att)
WHAT THIS D MUST DO TO IMPROVE IN 2022
- Improve against the run. (Been that way for years)
- Cut the number of defensive penalties.
- Stay in Top 10 with takeaways.
- Improve on # of sacks- last year had 41 which was avg. (Pitt had 55)
- Maintain or improve what I consider the MOST important defensive stat- points allowed.
For the first time in a very long time, the Cowboys defense has a real chance to be the best part of the team. The offense may take a step back from last year’s performance. The 2022 season may hinge on our defense.