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Mailbag: Solving The Turnovers Problem?


It sure seems like the Cowboys have been talking about the lack of turnovers for years while other teams consistently have a positive turnover margin. We have heard the Cowboys need a ball hawking defensive back and never seem to get one. They say they are going to focus on getting more turnovers and it never happens. I am sure some of it depends on coaching and player skill level, but why can't they figure this out? — KERRY GARDNER / SOUTH JORDAN, UT

David: It's a great question, and the lack of answers is definitely frustrating. As is usually the case, I think it's a few issues tied together. For starters, the Cowboys have played a very straightforward scheme for years. That's not to say it was bad, but it was very basic and boilerplate, and I'm not convinced it always allowed the defense to create advantageous matchups. To this point, it doesn't seem like Mike Nolan's scheme does that very well, either. But I do think it's fair to point out that he's not working with much in the way of difference makers. This is a unit that needs an infusion of talent.

Jonny: It feels like an evergreen question. I think you have to look big picture. Good defenses generate turnovers more than good secondaries. Pass rush is a factor. Stopping the run and forcing quarterbacks into long third downs generates turnovers. You need a very good defense to force a lot of turnovers. I think there's probably only one recent year when the Cowboys had a terrific defense and a poor turnover margin, and that might just have been bad luck. Trevon Diggs and Jourdan Lewis can intercept the ball. But it takes more than a couple guys with good hands to reverse a bad margin.

The NFL has done a great job helping minimize the spread of COVID-19 so far this season. That being said, are the protocols different for various players or teams? How is it possible that the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger can be in protocol for only five days and still get to play this past Sunday against Cincinnati, but Andy Dalton and numerous other players be in protocol for at least 10-14 days? Any ideas why that is the case? — RON DELATORRE / COPPELL, TX

David: It's all very convoluted, so I understand the confusion. The Cowboys declined to say whether Andy Dalton actually tested positive for COVID-19, or if it was someone around him. But clearly, even if he himself was not positive, his exposure was significant enough that the utmost caution was used. Roethlisberger was one of five Steeler players who was considered a "high risk," having come in close contact with Vance McDonald. I assume the Steelers made that determination using contract tracing. In that scenario, between the limited amount of time Roethlisberger was around McDonald, not to mention five days' worth of negative tests, it was enough to get Roethlisberger back onto the field.

Jonny: Like Dave said, teams don't have to disclose the reason for placing someone on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, but Roethlisberger apparently was exposed to someone who had it and had to self-quarantine as a precaution. The rules apply the same to every team, and we have to hope that every team is exercising the same amount of diligence. There's the logistics standpoint, but more importantly, no team can be cavalier with the health of their players. The proof of what this virus is capable of is all around us every day.

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