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Mailbag: Challenges For Teams With New Staffs?

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It seems easy to attribute the defense's struggles to a new scheme with a new coaching staff and the challenges of making that change during the COVID pandemic and the limitations that has created. It may well be fair, but can you compare it to other teams that have also changed coaches/schemes this offseason to help us gauge how much of the struggles might be reasonably attributed to that factor? — JEFF JOYCE / SHAWNEE, KS

Nick: For the most part, the teams with new coaches/schemes have had their issues. The one exception has been Cleveland, who started out slow, but have picked it up lately. I would be surprised if they made the playoffs considering how they've played against two division teams, but we saw what they did here against the Cowboys. Let's not forget, that most of the staffs with new coaches and schemes are because the team wasn't very good last year, prompting a change in the first place. Yes, it might sound like an excuse, but it's a valid one. Teams that are trying to change the culture and change the philosophies, are having to do so with virtual meetings, keeping distance and all other restrictions that we're dealing with. Yes, other teams are handling it better than the Cowboys. But I do believe they're the only first-place team right now with a new coach. Even though the division is pretty terrible at the moment.

Jonny: I think it's a fair point across the board. The only team that made a head coaching change this offseason and has a winning record is the Cleveland Browns. Now, they're defense isn't exactly turning heads through six games either, but if you look at the difference between them and the Cowboys, they at least have Myles Garrett. They have players who prove how good they are to a viewer who knew nothing about the names on the jerseys. There are relatively fair excuses for the Dallas defense, but right now, it feels like addressing them won't make up for a lack of talent.

How did Connor McGovern hold up in his first starting action, and what are his strengths and weaknesses at guard? — JOE COOK / DALLAS, TX

Nick: There didn't seem to be a lot of major issues with him going into the game. It's not like the offense just overpowered the Cardinals once he got in, but we didn't see a lot of negative plays, and that's a start. McGovern said after the game he thought he did well. Let's not forget, it was his first game 2018 at Penn State. He hasn't really played in preseason at all. He needs to gain strength but he's a versatile lineman with position flex who should be able to rely on sound technique and quick feet.

Jonny: I think that game got so out of hand so quickly, it's hard to evaluate any one position. I wasn't too impressed, but the Cardinals are unique in that they blitz constantly. They aren't the best model for what he might look like against, say, Washington this week. He was drafted as a guy who could run block and pass protect with equal merit. He really does just need experience in my opinion. It's a tough time to ask Cowboys fans to be patient, but I do expect him to get better as the season progresses.

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