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Mailbag: Building to compete with the 49ers?


With the NFC East seemingly in shambles (Philadelphia is a mess, Washington is starting over and the Giants have all sorts of issues), doesn't it seem like the Cowboys should be building a defense that can compete against a style of offense similar to the 49ers and even the Packers? Those systems appear to be what beats us soundly year in and year out. The 1990s teams were built for more than just the division. Your thoughts? – Brian Jones/Magnolia, TX

Nick Harris: I agree. There's a clear advantage in attacking your weaknesses over the offseason, and it's clear that on the defensive side, the weaknesses resided in stopping the run and being out-physicaled in key games (49ers, Bills, Packers). If the offseason approach is focused on beefing up the defensive side of the ball and putting more strength down the spine of the defense – defensive tackle, linebacker, safety – then the Cowboys will be better prepared to compete against the NFC's elite both in the regular season and in the playoffs. As for the division, I think that goes hand-in-hand. If you're preparing to beat the NFC's elite, you're also preparing to beat your division.

Mickey: Well not sure the Cowboys consciously have designed a defense to just compete against the NFC East. And if you think about it, is what San Francisco and Green Bay did the same as what took place against Buffalo and say Seattle? The Cowboys must improve their run defense for starters, and in doing so must strengthen the linebacker position, especially if Leighton Vander Esch decides to retire. They also need more depth at the cornerback position, and even at that, that's assuming Trevon Diggs comes back healthy and ready to go. Remember, Stephon Gilmore and Jourdan Lewis are unrestricted free agents come March 13. To me, it's not so much style of defense as it is improving the personnel.

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