Dallas Was One of the Worst NFL Defenses in 2013 and Now Has Lost Three Starters

By Jason McIntyre

Quite the offseason for one of the worst defenses in the NFL, huh?

Before we get to the disaster that 2014 has been so far, you should know this:

In 2013, no NFL defense gave up more yards than Dallas (6,645).
In 2013, the Cowboys ranked 30th in pass defense (286 yards per game).
In 2013, the Cowboys ranked 27th in run defense (128 yards per game).
In 2013, the Cowboys ranked 31st in yards per play allowed (6.1).

Clearly, the defense was a priority in the 2014 offseason, right? Well, they let go of their best pass rusher, DeMarcus Ware (six sacks last year; 19.5 in 2011). Ware turns 32 in July, he’s expensive, and his numbers have been in decline for awhile. Then, they lost defensive tackle Jason Hatcher – who led them in sacks with 11 – to the Redskins. This week, their second leading tackler, Sean Lee – the “QB of their defense” the team’s “emotional leader” – was lost for the season with an ACL injury.

One could argue that one of the worst defenses in football in 2013 will go into 2014 missing three of its five best players. And here’s the worst part – there are no impact players to replace Ware, Hatcher or Lee. The depth chart is atrocious. The linebackers are anonymous. There’s nobody that commands a double-team on the line. Their leading tackler last year was Barry Church, an undrafted safety. I think it’s written in stone, somewhere: If you’re safety leads you in tackles, your defense stinks.

Remember that colossal collapse by the Cowboys in Detroit last season? It would not surprise me at all if that kind of defeat happened three or four times in 2014. The defense is the big reason I have them drafting 4th overall in my 2015 mock draft. It’ll take a minor miracle to keep them out of the cellar in the NFC East.

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