The Dallas Cowboys finished 2013 with the second worst defense in NFL history and the worst of last season. After they missed the playoffs, thanks to a bad salary cap situation, Dallas lost their two best defensive linemen to free agency. Future Hall of Fame defensive end DeMarcus Ware headed to the Denver Broncos and the 2013 Cowboys’ sack leader Jason Hatcher left to play for the Washington Redskins. With linebacker Sean Lee tearing his ACL, Dallas is very shorthanded while needing to improve their defense.
Here are the players that need to step up if this Dallas Cowboys defense is to improve over last year’s performance.
Morris Claiborne was supposed to be the savior of the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary when they chose him with the first round in the 2012 NFL Draft. However, thanks to injuries he has never met expectations. That same year, Dallas signed Brandon Carr to a big free agent deal. What should have been a dominant cornerback tandem has been a huge disappointment. Now, with Orlando Scandrick a a starter on one side and Claiborne as his backup, it is time for Carr to prove he is worth the money Dallas is paying him. When he is on, Carr is a star, but he really has to step up consistently in 2014 or Dallas will have a lot of high scoring games to overcome.
DeMarcus Ware holds the record for the most sacks in Dallas Cowboys history. Jason Hatcher had the most sacks for the Cowboys in 2013. Both men are now gone. Now, it is time for the new Cowboys defensive line to step up. Last year’s biggest acquisition when it comes to their performance was George Selvie, who was a journeyman before arriving in Dallas. While Dallas has two big newcomers on the interior of the defensive line, Selvie needs to pick up the slack at the end position. He finished his first season in Dallas with seven sacks and needs to be the leader of the line this year.
Anthony Hitchens / Justin Durant
With Sean Lee gone, someone needs to step up and take the lead role as Dallas’ middle linebacker. Lee was the man who called the plays on the defensive side of the ball, but what Dallas needs is just a player who can help stop the run while playing a spy in the passing game. There were two players who replaced Lee last year when he was hurt. One of those was Justin Durant who will get a chance to win the job this year. However, he will have to beat out rookie Anthony Hitchens for the job. No matter who wins the job, they need to really step up to help cover the loss of Sean Lee. If Dallas doesn’t find a replacement that can perform at a high level, they will be in a lot of trouble.