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Mailbag: Focusing Too Much On Turnovers? 


I'm wondering how much of an impact Brent Urban being on IR, as he's known to be a run stopper, impacts our run-stopping defense? – JASON BARNES / STOCKBRIDGE, GA

Nick: My initial thought to that is probably not. I look at the stats and see that he's made three tackles year. But then you realize that his job isn't always to make the play, but eat up enough blocks for others to do theirs. I'm sure he's got more value than what the stat sheet says. But I think Sunday's problem had more to do with just sloppy tackling by everyone, rather than their being a lot of holes to run through. What's puzzling about the game is the Cowboys made 10 tackles for loss – and still got beat bad. But they did get back there and I would imagine that defense will play better this week, even without Urban.

David: I definitely think there's something to that. Urban's game doesn't translate to the stat sheet, but he was playing 30% of the snaps when he got hurt and is a physical presence that can eat up blocks and free up other tacklers. That said, a lot of the Cowboys' problems on Sunday came on the edges, so there's more to it than just losing Urban. Getting him back should help, but so should better effort at tackling.

I am happy to see the emphasis on turnovers brought by this defense. However, it seems guys are willing to run alongside, clawing at the ball, rather than just putting the guy down. Have you guys asked Coach Quinn about this? – JACK JACKSON / TYLER, TX

Nick: I noticed that as well. Usually, you see the offensive guys pressing too much and trying to make a lot of plays. But it happened with the defense on Sunday. Late in the game, the focus was on stripping the ball out and it ended up leading to more yards. But overall, I think the focus on takeaways is good. I wouldn't change that at all. They've been getting turnovers and it'll likely continue with the approach they've taken.

David: He and Mike McCarthy were asked about it as recently as Monday. There's always a balance to these things, right? You don't want to pass up the opportunity to create takeaways, but the defense definitely seemed to hurt itself last week by focusing too much on that aspect of things. As McCarthy and Quinn have both said, the relentless and finishing aspect of their game didn't show up against Denver. I don't think it's anything that needs to be re-taught or overhauled, it just requires a better level of focus and energy, in my opinion.

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