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Mailbag: How To Fix Cowboys Run Defense?


While the defense has played well, our opponents have been successful running the ball against our "big nickel" personnel package. Do you see Coach Quinn making any adjustments given how much the Rams and Eagles like to run the ball? — Mike Carroll / Chesapeake, VA

Nick: Well, I think Quinn has done a great job of adjustments here in four games. The scoring has dropped in every game and so while the run defense isn't the same as the pass defense - which might be the best in the NFL - I don't see it as a major problem. The Cowboys seem to shut it down when they need to. So if you ask me what you're more afraid of against the Rams and Eagles, my first answer wouldn't be "the run." Not saying it's not a big deal but I have confidence this defense will get off the field when it has to.

Kyle: Great question because I don't believe this is being talked about enough. I'm not necessarily concerned about the scheme and its performance to this point. Sure, the defense has allowed a significant chunk of rushing yards, sixth most in the league to this point to be exact. However, that hasn't been easy to achieve against the middle of the defense. All three teams between Cincinnati, New York, and Washington were held under or near their season average in yardage and their top tailbacks were limited in how effective they were. If there was an area to clean up? It would be outside the tackles. Cornerbacks, safeties, and outside linebackers must be better at getting to the edge and not being swallowed up by a good blocking scheme. That seemed to be improved on the tape in Week 4, hopefully they'll carry even more improvement to Los Angeles.

Rob: You're seeing a run-heavy approach by teams because they're trying to counter/avoid the Cowboys' pass rush and get into manageable third downs. Washington in particular was effective attacking the edges and looked to be trying to wear down Micah Parsons when he lined up there, though he did a nice job of forcing a two-yard loss on the opening play of the second half. I don't know if it's just about personnel packages. It's just about everybody being a little more sound at every level, all the way to the cornerbacks.

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