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How Can The Coaches Work Around Coverage Woes?


FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys don't currently wish to pursue outside free agents to add to their secondary. That part of the news cycle has already been established.

If that's the case, there are bound to be a bunch of follow up questions coming – about why that's the case, and how the Cowboys intend to fix their coverage problems. Team owner/general manager Jerry Jones was asked a bunch of them Tuesday morning, and he was ready for them.

"Any of these questions are very fair and very on point," Jones said on 105.3 FM The Fan. "And, so, make no mistake about it. I personally know why I'm answering or trying to answer these questions or addressing them."

But what about the actual answers? The Cowboys had major coverage lapses for the second-straight week this past Sunday, as Tyler Lockett slipped free for 100 yards and three touchdowns on nine receptions.

Asked about it, Jones suggested that the Cowboys' problems are more a result of adapting to a new defensive scheme than a lack of talent in the secondary.

"Let's say that you interpreted some of the receivers running wide open as mental," Jones said. "Let's say that we did that, not necessarily physical, but the design of the defense just didn't let the player physically get there in time to make a play. Let's say it's more mental. Then what you're hearing is you can assume you can correct those mental mistakes."

That has been a common refrain throughout the three weeks of this young season. Under first-year defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, the Cowboys are changing up their scheme for the first time in nearly a decade. Given the lack of an offseason program, a lengthy training camp or a preseason due to the outbreak of COVID-19, it makes sense if the Cowboys' defensive backs are doing some adjusting on the fly.

At the same time, those words ring a bit hollow as the Cowboys prepare to play their fourth game. It's understandable if things are still coming into focus, but that won't change the NFL standings.

Which brought about the next point, which is that Jones said he feels extremely encouraged by his new coaching staff. Faced with a long list of injuries, the Cowboys have certainly adjusted other aspects of their game – most notably, the way they've shuffled a depleted offensive line to help keep Dak Prescott on his feet.

Jones suggested that the same type of adjustments can be made on the defensive side of the ball.

"Look forward to them doing, look forward to our players better executing it, and look forward to us changing some things because this staff is really not bound by, well, they're on the bubble," he said.

That's a thought that hadn't been raised to this point. Heading into the fourth game of their first season, neither Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy nor any member of his staff should feel too worried about job security. McCarthy's tenure won't be made or broken during September of his first season. Along that same line of thought, this coaching staff has not truly had a chance to mold this roster in its image, as the vast majority of this year's team are holdovers from another era.

If ever there was a group to experiment, Jones seemed to suggest, this might be it.

Without the benefit of outside help, perhaps that's the Cowboys' best chance for reversing this recent trend.

"They're just starting, this staff. Don't feel that way, that this staff is reluctant to do something that they've made a commitment on years earlier," Jones said. "This staff doesn't have that, isn't shackled with that. You're going to see some changes, and you're going to see some changes on the run, and you're going to see some changes on the run from one series to the other. That's all good for the makeup of this team."


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