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Cowboys Need More Production From Its Secondary

Byron Jones and Jeff Heath

A favorite offseason hobby this offseason for Dallas Cowboys fans has been tracking the actions of current Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. Yesterday he wrote that he wouldn’t attend “any team activities until my contract situation is resolved.”

Thomas wants a new deal from the Seahawks, but they are in the middle of a rebuild and might not want to pay the exorbitant price it might take to re-up the star safety. And just like that, the Cowboys could be back in the market with the upper hand on acquiring Thomas.

It remains to be seen if the team is still interested, but there is little doubt they could use him. With or without Thomas, the Dallas defense needs to make more plays. It sounds like a broken record the past few years, but this secondary just doesn’t produce enough interceptions. Last year the Cowboys had just 10 interceptions, nine of which came from the secondary (the incomparable Sean Lee had the other). In 2016, Dallas had nine picks and just eight in 2015, but only five came from the secondary.

That’s why the Earl Thomas to Dallas dream may not die, the back half of the defense could use Thomas’ playmaking ability. Thomas has 25 interceptions over the course of his career and would be the leader of a young secondary.

No matter what happens, though, the Cowboys do have the look of a young group ready to take over. Drafting Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis at corner was a start in 2017, now they appear like stars in the making. Adding Xavier Woods later in the same draft was another great move and he is the most likely player to step up if Dallas doesn’t swing a trade for Thomas. New secondary coach Kris Richard has spoken very highly of all three second-year players and this secondary could take off under Richard’s tutelage.

Byron Jones has also moved positions and will now be a full-time cornerback. One of the first things Richard did, when he arrived in Dallas, was to move Jones back to corner, he seems to realize the potential in the athletic prowess of Jones. Richard likes the “length and strength” of Jones at the line of scrimmage and called Jones a “prototypical” cornerback coming out of college. This just might be the coach to make Byron the player the Cowboys believed he could be.

Richard is a major reason to hope this secondary can take off. His work with the Seahawks instills confidence that he can build and coach up a group that has talent. In his time in Seattle, Richard’s secondary was one of the best units in the league and they gobbled up interceptions. When he had the Legion of Boom coming into their prime, like the Cowboys’ young corners are, they had a high of 28 picks in 2013. Seattle had players all over their defense, but the secondary was one of the most feared units in the league. The talent is there for the Cowboys to have success as well.

Dallas has the makings of a surprisingly good defense. If the offense follows the template from 2014 and 2016 where they get the lead and force the opposition to throw the ball to catch up, the opportunity will be there to pick off a lot of passes. It’s a young, talented secondary, with the perfect position coach to get the most out of them. The Cowboys need more production from its secondary.

It doesn’t matter if the team trades for Earl Thomas or not, the Dallas Cowboys they need more interceptions in 2018.

You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi

Ben Grimaldi

Ben Grimaldi

Cowboys Desk Sr. Analyst at SportsTalkLine
Cowboys Desk Sr. Analyst on ProFootBallTalkLine.Com. Associate sports producer. Let's talk sports! On Twitter @BenGrimaldi and Podcasting for STL!
Ben Grimaldi