Analysis

Cowher, Zimmer Break Down Dallas Cowboys’ Defense

Super Bowl-winning coaches Bill Cowher and Mike Zimmer both liked what they saw from Dallas’ defense last season and break down the players who stand out most. 

Cowher: Dallas Can Build around Micah Parsons 

 

When fans think of Micah Parsons, some ask, “Why don’t the Cowboys just put him at defensive end?”

“If you have him on one side and Demarcus Lawrence on the other side,” Cowher said. “You can game plan for that … (But) if you move him all around; you can’t game plan for him.”

“Suddenly, you find yourself in a game plan on offense,” Cower added. “Limiting what you’re going to do because you’re not sure where he’s going to be.”

Cowher is confident Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will move his dynamic defender around and get him favorable one-on-one matchups that make Dallas’ defense better.

Not only does Cowher think Parsons is a special player, he also thinks Trevon Diggs can be a playmaker on the backend. The 33rd Team’s head of scouting, TJ McCreight, agrees. 

“Diggs has excellent instincts, or as most scouts and coaches might say, ‘His eyes work,’ ” McCreight said. “He can snatch the ball with ease. He runs fast and he also can align inside or outside. Like most bigger corners, he does have a tad of tightness in space, but it certainly is not terminal.”

Zimmer: Versatility is Key to Cowboys’ Defense

 

Mike Zimmer believes versatile players like Diggs and Parsons are crucial to the Cowboys’ defense. 

Zimmer says Dallas makes a lot of plays defensively. For example, last year’s interception leader, Trevon Diggs, can jump different routes, utilizing his outstanding hands to create turnovers. 

McCreight sees something similar.

“The Cowboys defense in 2021 was tops in the NFL with 34 takeaways,” McCreight said. “I was in the NFC East last season (as player personnel executive and scout for the Philadelphia Eagles) and had to play the Cowboys twice. A team that creates turnovers is not fun to play. Wherever you are on the field and no matter how well you are moving the football, that threat of an interception or losing a fumble is always in the back of your mind.”

Defensive end Dorance Armstrong can pressure the quarterback alongside Parsons. Considering Parsons’ athletic ability, Zimmer said the linebacker compares favorably to some of the talented defenders he coached during his time with the Minnesota Vikings. “Danielle Hunter or Anthony Barr … get them (matched up) on (running) backs, get them on the worst offensive linemen,” Zimmer said. “Those are the kind of things Dan (Quinn) continues to do.”

Pass Rush Points Saved/Rush Pressure Rate Sacks
Barr (2021) 0.15 (4th-best) 26% (7th) 2.5
Parsons (2021, full season) 0.12 (5th best) 24% (9th) 13
Hunter (2019, last full season) 0.05 (62nd best) 15% (45th) 14.5

Quinn is entering his second season as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator after spending six seasons as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

Zimmer was also impressed with how the Cowboys used former Vikings safety Jayron Kearse. “They used him great; they used him toward the line of scrimmage,” Zimmer said. “He’s a big physical guy that likes to play in the box, and I think that did a lot of things for them as well.”

 

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