IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys’ all-time single-season leader in interceptions doesn’t point the finger at the Dallas secondary for finishing last in the league in total defense.
Former Cowboys cornerback Everson Walls, who set a team record with 11 interceptions his rookie season in 1981 and compiled 44 picks during his time with the Cowboys from 1981-89, said on NFL Network that the problem with the defense lies with the front seven.
“I lived by pressure,” Walls said. “(Ed) ‘Too Tall’ Jones, Harvey Martin, Randy White, I had plenty of pressure up there. They made me so upset sometimes, they took away my interceptions because they got there so fast…That’s the luxury that I lived with. The Cowboys need to shore up not just their front four, but their front seven.”
The Cowboys finished last in the league in sacks per pass attempt and No. 25 in the league in sacks overall last year. Walls, a Dallas native and four-time Pro Bowler who played behind some of the best pass rushers in the league, said there needs to be a better rush if the big-money secondary players are going to reach their potential.
“If you’re going to be good in the secondary, you have to be good on the defensive line, and that’s just all there is to it,” Walls said.
Walls appeared Monday on NFL Network for “Dynasty Week,” which features the Cowboys this week. In addition to discussing the current roster, he also touched on his playing days and what it was like to play for head coach Tom Landry.
The corner said the Cowboys were like rock stars, and the more conservative Landry didn’t like dealing with the off-field distractions or entertainment.
“I think right now you and I have just had more words between each other than Tom and I had in the eight years I played for him,” Walls said. “He was a guy that believed in the system, and that’s what it was all about. You couldn’t help but make sure that you did your job, because as far as he was concerned, his system works, and you were just another cog in the entire wheel. So communication wasn’t that important.”
Walls said it was tough and not nearly as exciting as many would think to play for Landry. But make no mistake: Walls clearly respected the coach immensely.
“Great at delegating, a genius at whatever he did,” Walls said. “When you invent a defense, you invent the flex defense, and all the things that he invented offensively, the offensive linemen would come up to the line of scrimmage – you don’t see that anymore – where they give the little hitch and they go down…that’s where you got it from.”