The Dallas Cowboys had plenty of issues to contend with in 2020, especially after Dak Prescott's season-ending injury. With the star quarterback on the mend and under contract, the much bigger issue for the team is the a defense that cratered last season.
The 6-10 Cowboys allowed a team record 29.6 points per game last year, 9.5 points worse than the year before. The team surrendered the fifth most points per game in the NFL.
During a press conference today, head coach Mike McCarthy says that the defensive side of the ball is the major "focus of change" for the offseason. The team has already gotten off to a big start there, after replacing fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan with former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinnin January.
McCarthy admits that last year, the team "tried to change too much," though he didn't seem to regret making major overhauls from 2019. "We just didn't get it done," he said. "We went in with too much volume."
Now, he tasks Quinn with getting things back on track. It would be hard to find a coach with a better track record, as a defensive coordinator at least.
He spent 2013-14 with the Seattle Seahawks, guiding the "Legion of Boom" defense which held Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to just eight points in a dominant Super Bowl XLVIII victory. As Falcons head coach, he led the team to Super Bowl LI in year two and the playoffs again a year later, though things tailed off from there.
Before Prescott's injury, the Dallas Cowboys had one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. If the team's offensive stars stay healthy, the offensive line rounds back into form, and the defenses rises to respectability, Mike McCarthy's team should be a playoff contender in 2021. Those are big "ifs" though.