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Mailbag: How Much Better On Defense?


I'm not too worried about this 2020 Dallas offense. They will score points. Do you guys think Dallas did enough to help D-Law and company? Did they make enough moves that could elevate everyone's contribution and bring it to the next level? SONG NGUYEN / ATLANTA, GA

Nick: Sometimes you can help your defense by adding guys like CeeDee Lamb, re-signing Blake Jarwin and developing youngsters such as Gallup and Pollard. My point is that a dynamic offense might be the exact help the defense needs. We will see what this different defense looks like when the season starts. Maybe some true beef inside will help the pass-rushers. Maybe Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is a better safety than we've seen back there before. But there is a concern at cornerback and until we see how that position shakes out, there will be some question marks.

Jonny: I tend to think it's more fun to be optimistic when it comes to unknowns. For example, Aldon Smith could be a great reclamation project. Bradlee Anae could be an impact rookie. Leighton Vander Esch could be fully healthy. Mike Nolan could have a bunch of tricks up his sleeve. But I think the most honest answer is that the defense will probably struggle. Most of their additions are possible impact players. The closest they came to a guaranteed positive was signing Gerald McCoy, but they are also losing Robert Quinn off the defensive line, which sort of tempers that excitement.

During these virtual minicamp and OTA sessions, what exactly do those look like? Are the coaches just going over film and responsibilities with players, or do they do anything physical? Do they work on technique at all? ROLAND BELL / FAYETTEVILLE, AR

Nick: Roland, I might have a better idea what's going on in your city than in mine. And even that, I don't really know much about my Hogs. All I'm saying is that we really don't know exactly what these sessions look like – and that's not by accident. Sure, we've heard some things here and there, but I know I haven't received a full breakdown of what the coaches are doing exactly – in terms of technique or scheme or a combo of both. I'm sure there is an element of introduction that is taking place with the new coaches and their players. So I imagine the meetings have some elements of techniques, but I'd be lying if I told you I knew exactly what is being conducted in there.

Jonny: From what we heard early on, the virtual OTAs involved the players having their new plays and schemes explained to them and then they were tested over them. They then moved on to intensive film sessions in group virtual meetings to make sure the players could identify these things on actual game footage. All that stuff was crucial in a year transitioning to a new coaching staff, and I think it could be reasonably taught in a virtual environment. The physical and technique stuff is another issue. I'm sure the players are being instructed on drills they need to be doing that can establish rhythm, but I'm not certain it really comes close to what would be happening at a practice facility with coaches and other players.

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