FRISCO - Dan Quinn is the Dallas Cowboys’ third defensive coordinator in as many seasons. Some things, it seems, will stay the same. Others, based on his interview with the Pro Football Focus NFL Podcast, will change - a wise idea, as the 2020 Dallas defense was among the poorest in franchise history.
What will stay the same? The pledge - one made by now-deposed coordinator Mike Nolan, along with head coach Mike McCarthy upon their arrival at The Star a year ago - that "it's players over scheme.''
"Think of like 'players first over the scheme,'' Quinn said. "There will certainly be guidelines that you want to fit guys into, but more than anything, what do you have and how to feature guys will drive a little bit of how you can play.
“Scheme-wise, everybody has enough defense and flexibility to last for a while. It’s about how to put guys in the best spots ...''
This - no exaggeration - is almost word-for-word what McCarthy said a year ago. And then ... his Cowboys did virtually none of those things. DeMarcus Lawrence became a stand-up end who was asked to play the run in a 3-4. Jaylon Smith was asked to drop into pass coverage and guard scatbacks. Players were confounded - and unhappy.
In short, they were fibbed to.
Maybe this time, “players over scheme'' will be more than empty words. That will start with the reinstitution of the 4-3, which unquestionably best fits Dallas' talent.
Anything else about "differences,'' "sameness,'' "themes'' and schemes,'' coach?
“Number one, create the identity where guys can play fast,'' said Quinn, who did that as a Super Bowl coordinator with the Seahawks and later, as a Super Bowl head coach in Atlanta. "I think every really good defense, that has a part in it.
“That’s A, No. 1, top-of-the-pile for sure,'' he said. "Creating that identity that when everybody sees us play, you know exactly what you’re going to get.”
The 2020 Cowboys, on defense, did not know what they were going to get because they didn't know what they were doing. Any definition in that direction from new coordinator Dan Quinn will be an improvement.
CONTINUE READING: LISTEN: Cowboys' Quinn On 'Finding A CB Like' Richard Sherman'