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Mailbag: Creating More Takeaways?

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After last year, it seems like everyone is talking about stopping the run, but am I wrong or did the majority of our draft picks have interceptions to their name? Turnovers have been a sore spot for years and it looks like Dan Quin and Mike McCarthy have prioritized interceptions in this draft class. — MICHAEL FRANCEUS / RICHARDSON, TX

David: You aren't wrong at all. Mike McCarthy harped on the Cowboys' poor turnover differential throughout last season, and he said it was an emphasis in this draft class. They think a lot of these guys will help them take the ball away. Stopping the run and playing fundamental defense are obviously important, but I don't think it's a stretch to say a better turnover differential is one of this staff's No. 1 priorities for this year.

Jonny: I don't think that they are totally unrelated. When you have any glaring weaknesses on your defense it'll take a lot of luck to get any turnovers. I think it's a slight misconception that improving turnover differential is as simple as getting DBs who can catch the ball. Really you need quarterbacks to make mistakes, and that happens when they're put in third and long or being pressured. But to your point, it does feel like they added players more than capable of taking advantage of those mistakes.

I don't remember any hesitation or second thoughts when McCarthy tagged Mike Nolan as DC in early 2020 and we all know how that turned out. Sell me on Dan Quinn. Name two things he brings to the table (experience, philosophy, teaching skills, attitude, etc.) that will turn this defense around under his leadership. _— CHASE CLEMENTS / DRIPPING SPRINGS, TX _

David: The big thing for me is probably familiarity. This defense isn't going to look exactly like the ones the Cowboys ran in 2018 and 2019, but it should be fairly similar. And while the Dallas defense wasn't elite in those seasons, it was certainly adequate. This team allowed 20.3 points per game in 2018 and 20.1 points per game in 2019. If they can do that this year, with this offense, they should win plenty of games. On top of that, everything I've heard about Quinn is that he has an infectious attitude that resonates with players, similar to Kris Richard.

Jonny: I think your point is sort of fair. I'm not sure that the lesson from last year is that Mike Nolan can't coach a good defense. It takes good defensive players for a defense to be good. But Quinn's system has worked very well in two places, he's shown flexibility, and players seems to really love him. And to Dave's point, the offense should make the defense's job a lot easier. I don't think Quinn can make the Cowboys a top-3 defense, but I think he can make them a top-12 defense, and that would be a success.

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