America*s Team has had an unfortunately bad display in free agency thus far. Having lost three of their four starting defensive backs and their heavily used back-up safety, things aren’t looking great for an already struggling pass defense. Letting their secondary leave was a huge loss for Dallas, because it exposed the one thing that held them back last year. Moving forward, unless things start to change in the front office, this defense could continue to hold back the explosive offense that broke out last year.
With the 26th ranked pass defense in the league last year, Dallas relied on stopping the run and putting up points week in and week out. Captain Barry Church signed with Jacksonville, Morris Claiborne signed with the New York Jets, Brandon Carr signed with Baltimore, and J.J. Wilcox signed with Tampa Bay. While Orlando Scandrick, Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, and Anthony Brown are still on the roster, it is going to be difficult for them to play at an elite level.
Nolan Carrol III, a free agent who Dallas signed from Philadelphia this offseason, will be sliding into the CB 2 position. However, I am not at all excited to see him play. He’s been wildly unimpressive throughout his 8-year career. He has 8 total interceptions in his career, and has never had a season with over 57 tackles.
However, there is still hope for this defense. The debut of Jaylon Smith could be a huge boost to an already impressive run defense for Dallas. The rookie sat out all of last season with a knee injury that carried over from his tenure at Notre Dame, however he’s expected to be ready for the start of the season. Smith was a relentless tackler at Notre Dame, hopefully, when fully healthy, that will continue in his first season.
This draft, the focus has to be on the secondary. There has to be a player in this draft class that can be a staple in the secondary for years to come. The front office needs to start targeting the actual needs of the team: secondary and pass rushing. If Jerry Jones would pass the reigns to genuinely anyone else, the draft could go as planned.
If things play out to their best ability, the secondary will improve, the pass rush will be a force, and the offense will continue to batter opposing defenses. The season will depend on the play of youth, and whether or not Jason Garrett actually decides to coach the team. Hopefully, this organization will get their act together and this season will be one to remember.