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Mailbag: Top-10 Defense? Edge Rusher Option?


Our offense should put up a lot of points, making teams play catch-up and one-dimensional. That will allow our edge rushers to tee off on the quarterback, creating lots of pressure and mistakes. That allows our secondary to cash in with turnovers and if we win the turnover battle then I believe we could be a top-10 defense. What's your thoughts? — JASON ELLIS / EL PASO, TX

David: That's obviously the Cowboys' hope. We've seen that blueprint work wonders for them before, and I think that's part of the reason why they hired Dan Quinn – a coach who has experienced success using similar schemes to what we've seen here in the past. Still, top 10 feels awfully ambitious. There just aren't very many proven commodities on the defensive line or in the secondary. I do think Quinn can help move this group back toward the middle of the pack, but top 10 feels like a stretch.

Jonny: I agree with your premise that the offensive production should provide a domino effect that makes things easier for the defense, but I think top 10 is a little ambitious from where I'm standing. Not every team with a dominant offense has automatically had a top-10 defense just by product of their offense scoring points. Keep in mind that the Cowboys' offense could be playing catch-up because their defense fails in the first quarter. I think a top-18 defense is a conservative immediate goal and hope they improve as the season progresses and hopefully they don't have bad luck with injuries.

Do you see Osa Odighizuwa as candidate for edge rusher with his strength, wrestling background and quick first step? — PAUL KARAM / HOUSTON, TX

David: If anything, I think his wrestling background could help him a lot at defensive tackle, where beating your man often comes down to leverage instead of speed. I think the Cowboys brought him in specifically to be a pass rushing, penetrating three-technique, and that's where I'd expect him to stay for the time being.

Jonny: I see him as a candidate for edge rusher, for sure, but those qualities also lend themselves to being a great nose tackle as well potentially. I think the Cowboys invested in him because he has apparent talent and he's got a "just get me on the field" type of game. I personally would like to see him at nose tackle but maybe you're right about being a disruptive edge rusher. Hopefully one of us is right.

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