The Doomsday Defense took on a new meaning last season in Dallas as the Cowboys Defense ranked as one of the worst — if not the worst — in team history. The Cowboys allowed a franchise-record 473 points, topping the team-record 436 in 2010.
The 6,183 total yards allowed and 2,541 rushing yards allowed both were the second-most in team history.
The Cowboys fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan after one season and hired former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.
“We’ve already taken a major step with Dan Quinn,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said Wednesday. “I think he’s going to be very special. When we did our diligence, figuring it out with coach [Mike] McCarthy and Jerry [Jones] and myself, what he would be like as a defensive coordinator, it was nothing but rave reviews. His players want to lay it on the line for him. They want to play hard for him.
“I think we’ve got a lot of great players on defense, whether it’s DeMarcus Lawrence, whether it’s Leighton Vander Esch or Jaylon Smith, whether it’s a Randy Gregory, who is up-and-coming. Young guys like (Neville) Gallimore and Trysten Hill. There’s a lot to work with there, and I think he’s going to get it out of them. I think he’s going to put a system in where they can play hard and fast and confident in what they’re doing. And then if we go do our work in the offseason in terms of improving it, I think we’re going to check that box.”
Quinn’s defenses in Seattle ranked first in the NFL in points and yards in 2013 and 2014, his first two seasons as an NFL defensive coordinator. He has had only one top-10 defense since with the Falcons ranking ninth in yards and eighth in points in 2017 while Quinn was head coach.
“Quinn, in my view, has some great skins on the wall,” Jerry Jones said. “He’s got great experience. He is people-skilled. When you’re around him, you’ll see that. He’s certainly a dedicated football coach, and he’s covered a lot of ground. We have a lot of tape, so to speak, if you were talking about a player. We’ve got really a lot of information to look at to decide how he fits us. He was absolutely perfect for us in this situation to come in here. He’ll be extraordinarily influential in how we put together our personnel on defense. I think he’s got that kind of credibility.”
Quinn has his work cut out for him this season, but as Stephen Jones pointed out, he does have a few players in place to build around.