I think a reason for some of the defensive failures was the mismanagement of the linebacker roster. The Cowboys did nothing to fix a thin linebackers corps even after Leighton Vander Esch was lost for the season. It seems going light at linebacker was a nearsighted way of thinking. Do you agree? And should fixing the situation at linebacker be a priority in the offseason? – Michael Anderson/Old Bridge, NJ
Nick Eatman: I wouldn't say they did nothing at all to fix it, but at the end of the day, or season for that matter, it wasn't fixed. They added Rashaan Evans, who played a few games before being released after he was arrested. They also had some interest in Shaq Leonard. But neither of those players would've fixed the linebacker issues in mid-season. I do agree that going "light" at linebacker was not a great plan. Sure, it's OK if your team has the lead but in the cases when the Cowboys trailed and had to stop the run, it didn't work. I think Markquese Bell should have a Kearse-type of role but not really as a down linebacker. Yes, the linebacker position needs to be a priority and hopefully getting some help in free agency and/or the draft, coupled with Overshown coming back, it should enhance the position right away.
Kurt: Hindsight is always 20/20, but you have to think the Cowboys wish they had handled their linebacking corps differently. Remember, they cut 2021 draft pick Jabril Cox (6-3, 240) at the end of training camp and 2022 pick Devin Harper (6-0, 240) three weeks into the season. Not that those two were huge difference-makers, but outside of a failed attempt with Rashaan Evans (6-2, 232), they never replaced their size. And this after rookie DeMarvion Overshown (6-3, 230) was already injured. Like many, once Leighton Vander Esch (6-4, 255) was then lost, I really thought they would add some size to the position, but for whatever reason, they believed smaller and faster was the way to go. So yes, maybe they'd like a do-over there. As far as this offseason, it's not a matter of should they fix the linebacker situation, they have to. For his sake, I hope Vander Esch retires, and even if he doesn't, can they count on a full year? And how comfortable are you with Overshown? He's a third-round pick coming off a major knee injury who will be in his first season. How big of an impact can we really expect? Right now it's Damone Clark (6-2, 245) and pass-rushing ace Micah Parsons (6-3, 250). There is no choice but to make this position a priority.