Cowboys’ second attempts prompt ‘defensive mentality shift’

Cowboys’ second attempts prompt ‘defensive mentality shift’

Through David Helman
FOX Sports Dallas Cowboys Author

OXNARD, Calif. – With all due respect to many alumni cowboys Defender feels a little different in 2022.

It used to feel like a summertime ritual to come down to the West Coast and watch this team’s receivers put on a show. From Dez Bryant and Miles Austin to Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, it was common to see a Dallas wideout take over training camp as recently as last year.

For the record, Lamb is playing well in his third NFL training camp. But this time it feels more like a fair fight because despite all the criticism the Cowboys secondary school has reaped over the past decade or so, this one has opened camp at the highest possible level.

“I feel like defense is finally catching up and we can finally do justice to offense with flashplays and points and everything,” said Anthony Brown.

Brown was the perfect guy to ask about high school. Make a list of Cowboys players who enjoyed the best first week of camp, and the seventh year corner better be on it. He beat Dak Prescott on the first day of practice and he’s managed to maintain that level or performance for the past week. On Thursday, he showed his recovery ability by recapturing a lost step on KaVontae Turpin and resolving a possible touchdown.

It’s striking enough that Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy took the time to say that Brown – often the subject of criticism from fans and media alike – is often underestimated.

“I think he’s someone who should get more love from you guys. Just a suggestion,” McCarthy said. “I think he’s done a lot of good things. But more importantly, he’s very, very consistent. What I love about AB is that he’s the same guy every day.”

But it’s not just brown. Obviously, Trevon Diggs deserves a mention as he looks to build on his first-team All-Pro selection in 2021. But even after an 11-interception season, there is much debate as to what factors Diggs factors into the NFL cover boys’ pecking order.

Getting back to the point with Brown, Diggs said the Cowboys’ high school feels forgotten. Maybe everyone is just holding their breath, waiting to see if a defense that led the league with 34 takeaways — including 17 interceptions by its cornerbacks — can do it again.

“We’ve all done things, we just haven’t gotten the respect we need yet,” Diggs said. “It’s nobody’s fault. We just have to go out there and show what we can do.”

The funny thing is that there shouldn’t be a huge learning curve. Dan Quinn is back for another trip as defense coordinator, which means the scheme mostly stays the same.

Quinn reportedly offered to leave Cowboys

Quinn reportedly offered to leave Cowboys

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn told USA Today he offered to leave Dallas if it would make things “easier” for head coach Mike McCarthy. Colin Cowherd ponders whether Quinn should have stayed or left.

More importantly, secondary education itself is mostly the same. All three main cornerbacks are under contract for at least this season, and the front office has signed fire guard Jayron Kearse on two years.

Damontae Kazee is off last year’s team, but even that loss is mitigated by the decision to re-sign Malik Hooker, who played 446 snaps as Quinn’s third safety.

“Just to come back, I thought it was an unfinished business and obviously the guys we had that I knew were coming back, too,” Hooker said.

All of this combines to create one of the deepest and most experienced secondaries this franchise has had in quite some time. Even the back end of the depth chart is looking promising, with two upswept corners awaiting in the wings and fourth-year safety Donovan Wilson rounding out the back end.

You will be tested quickly. Within the first five weeks of the season, this group faces three of the NFL’s most explosive passing attacks: Tampa Bay, Cincinnati and the LA Rams. It seems quite a step up from defending the Cowboys’ exhausted receiver corps to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson II.

Unsurprisingly, the Cowboys DBs say they’re up to the challenge. The weird thing is that in 2022, they feel easier to believe.

“I feel like when Jerry and these guys drafted us, they felt like they wanted a mentality change on defense,” said Jourdan Lewis, who played in his sixth year. “We had a couple of changes that led to that point, but ultimately we’re getting to where we want to be in defence.”

David Helman reports on the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports, providing insight and analysis on the NFL’s most visible franchise. Before joining FOX, David spent nine seasons covering the Cowboys for the team’s official website, In 2018, he won a regional Emmy for his role in the production of “Dak Prescott: A Family Reunion,” about the Mississippi state quarterback’s time.

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