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Mailbag: The Recipe For Takeaways On Defense?


The Cowboys defensive coaches have always preached the importance of causing turnovers. But wow, what a difference Dan Quinn makes! Five in the last game, even if it's preseason, kind of proves last year wasn't a fluke. What's his magic secret? What does he do different that maybe other defensive coordinators have missed? — STEVE WADDELL / SUFFOLK, VA

Kyle: There's much more work put into it than this leads on, but it's the way Dan Quinn fits his scheme to his players. It's not a groundbreaking tactic, but it works well with the talent that's on the roster. Sure, Quinn has a general idea of how he'd like to run a defensive scheme and of how he does things. But other coordinators in the past have relied on their scheme to put players in the right spot, not the other way around. Think of Micah Parsons and Jayron Kearse for example. Both have played in other defenses, whether in college or the NFL, and not nearly had the same success. You could argue Parsons had success at Penn State, but he didn't display the same sort of pass rush ability as he's shown in Dallas. That's a credit to him, but also Quinn allowing his skill set to decide the right usage.

Rob: A couple other things I would add. Credit Dan Quinn, known as primarily a Cover 3 guy throughout his career, for tweaking his system last year that added more versatility to the scheme. And credit Mike McCarthy, too. He's always talking about "play style," and if you look at the teams he's coached over the last 15 years, they usually create a decent amount of takeaways and win the turnover battle. He's known as an offensive-minded coach but that's been a theme on defense dating back to his Green Bay days.

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