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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Dan Quinn's Arrival Prompts Cowboys Defensive Resurgence

Scouting Report: Dan Quinn spearheaded a defensive transformation in 2021 with the unanimous Defensive Rookie of the Year at the helm. An in-depth overview of other key players and strengths and weaknesses for the Buccaneers’ Week One opponent

Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Micah Parsons (11) celebrates sacking Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. Denver won 30-16. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Micah Parsons (11) celebrates sacking Denver Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater during an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. Denver won 30-16. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will kick off their season against the Dallas Cowboys for the second consecutive year, this time making the trip to AT&T Stadium. The Sunday Night Football showdown on September 11 is one of five primetime contests headlining the Bucs' 2022 regular season slate.

The last time the Cowboys hoisted the Lombardi Trophy – the club's fifth Super Bowl victory – or won an NFC Championship game was in 1995. After 26 years of falling short of those coveted goals, loyal fans are hopeful this will be a historical campaign to usurp mere lofty aspirations. The aim for the Cowboys is to end that drought.

The Cowboys' starting crew will look much different than it did a year ago at Raymond James Stadium. During the offseason, Dallas parted ways with receiver Amari Cooper (trade, Browns), right tackle La'el Collins (released, Bengals), receiver Cedrick Wilson (Dolphins), and defensive end Randy Gregory (Broncos) among others. As is the team's customary philosophy in free agency – opposite from the Rams' all-in approach - Dallas acquired cap-friendly James Washington and Dante Fowler Jr. In the first padded practice of training camp, Washington sustained a fracture in his right foot. He will miss 6-10 weeks, adding to the club's already thinned receiver group. Behind Lamb, rookie wide receivers Jalen Tolbert, a third-round draft selection, and Dennis Houston, a rookie free agent, will likely serve as the third and fourth receivers as Michael Gallup recovers from a torn ACL. Sixth-year veteran Noah Brown, who has primarily worked in-line as a blocker, will have the first shot to lock the No. 2 spot. Left tackle Tyron Smith is injured (torn left hamstring), potentially thrusting first-year player Tyler Smith into the starting blind-side role.

In discussing the team's offseason approach, Cowboys' Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said, "I don't think you ever win the Super Bowl in the offseason. It's a full body of work…You got to get over the hump. We didn't last year with the same group of players."

In the regular season, Dallas finished with a 12-5 record to place them atop the NFC East. The Cowboys lost during Wild Card Weekend in the playoffs to the San Francisco 49ers, embodying the movie Groundhog Dayas the same outcome materialized. The team improved drastically from their disastrous campaign in 2020 during Mike McCarthy's first year as head coach and the hybrid Mike Nolan defensive experiment. However, the goal is not improvement but contention for another Super Bowl.

To begin the 2021 season, the offense began firing on all cylinders and looked the part of the NFC's juggernaut. Due to the offense's hot start, Kellen Moore's cast finished first in yards and points per game. They accumulated 40-plus points in three games and even eclipsed the 50-yard marker twice – a rarity in the NFL. Quarterback Dak Prescott set a new franchise record for touchdown passes in a season with 37. He finished second in Comeback Player of the Year voting after returning from a right ankle compound fracture and dislocation that ended his 2020 season prematurely. Through the first half of the season, Prescott was in the MVP conversation with a 115.0 passer rating through the first six games. Additionally, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb surpassed the 1,000-yard mark during his sophomore campaign, earning his first Pro Bowl nod, and running Tony Pollard, tight end Dalton Schultz and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson elevated the team's offensive attack with notable contributions.

Ezekiel Elliott, the team's featured back, only averaged 58.9 rushing yards per game (career-low) and 4.2 yards per carry. Granted, the inconsistent offensive line play contributed to the deficiencies in the run game. Elliott was often tasked with picking up the fifth blitzer on chips, an aspect of his game that will not appear on the stat sheet. His counterpart in the backfield, Tony Pollard, could see more touches in 2022 after posting the best statistical season of his career in 2021 with 169 touches for 1,056 yards and two touchdowns. His 5.5 yards per carry ranked second in the NFL among qualifying backs. Elliott is a powerful runner through tackles, but Pollard's slash running style makes him lethal in space. He quickly bounces runs to the outside and can hit top speed almost instantaneously. Pollard presents an upside as a pass-catcher on short-to-intermediate routes, which could add a creative wrinkle for Kellen Moore with a thinned-receiver depth chart.

Despite those achievements, the Cowboys' offense faltered during the second half of the season as opponents began using a heavy dose of two-high shell coverage. The stat column masked an unpleasant reality. Dallas could not sustain success on the ground like they did to begin the season and as a result, opponents stopped allocating resources up front to stop the run. Instead, opposing teams began utilizing a four-man rush to generate pressure with more players on the back end working over the top of the defense. This forced Dallas to try and win underneath with a quick passing game or perimeter-based assault. Both Schultz and Wilson emerged over the middle of the field, but the Cowboys were not able to effectively counter with Cover Two beaters and perimeter runs complementing Pollard's shiftiness in space were designated as a "secondary, auxiliary" category by the coaching staff. One of the most glaring issues over the second half of the season was the Cowboys' inability to ignite the run game against light boxes.

Overall, inconsistent offensive line play, penalties and critical missed extra points led to the team's downfall. Dallas was penalized a total of 141 times and lost a combined 1,192 yards because of flags through 18 (including Wild Card) games, shifting momentum to opponents. The offensive line consistently got beat at the point of attack during the second half of the season, culminating in the offensive woes. In the first eight games of the season, Prescott got pressured 91 times (sacked 11) according to PFF. In the last 10 games of the 2021 season, he faced 131 pressures (24 sacks), including a season-high by the 49ers in the NFL Wild Card Round.

To the surprise of many, the strength of the team was the defense, under the leadership of Dan Quinn. In one season, he turned the unit around, inheriting a squad that gave up a franchise-worst 473 points in 2020. With an emphasis on turnovers, Dallas led the league in takeaways last year with 34, 26 of which were interceptions. The club was also tied for the league lead in turnover differential at +14. Quinn revamped the defense and under his tutelage, players skillsets were maximized. Trevon Diggs became an All-Pro and led the league in interceptions. Then there is the testament of rookie sensation, Micah Parsons, who became the first-ever unanimous NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Parsons compiled one of the greatest shows on turf for a rookie – arguably, ever – to the tune of 13 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, and 30 quarterback hits in 16 game starts. Other Cowboy defenders put up their best campaigns in 2021 as well, including tight end eraser and safety Jayron Kearse (led the team in tackles), defensive end Randy Gregory who reached peak performance, along with cornerback Anthony Brown and rotational defensive end Dorance Armstrong. After Gregory opted to leave for Denver, the Cowboys signed Fowler, the third-overall selection by the Jaguars in the 2015 NFL Draft. He missed the duration of his rookie season after suffering an ACL tear. He reunites with Quinn in Dallas, who he played for in Atlanta in 2020.

In 2022, the Cowboys are out to prove they are more than a one-and-done afterthought in the playoffs but a team worthy of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Here's a closer look at some of the challenges and opportunities the Buccaneers will face when they get their prime-time clash with the Cowboys on Sunday:

Cowboys Difference-Makers

The Cowboys have a plethora of star-studded names on both sides of the football. Many could have landed on the difference-makers compilation list, but these few stand out. For this exercise, there is a twist in the rundown. The list begins with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the man who is responsible for taking the Dallas defense from the laughingstock of the league to one of the most formidable in 2021. Quinn may not take the field as a player in Week One, but his ability to create advantageous one-on-one pass rush situations/matchups with backs should not go unnoticed. Keep your eyes on these five who could help swing the game in the Cowboys' favor on Sunday night:

DC Dan Quinn

Cowboys' Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn earned NFL Assistant Coach of the Year honors for transforming the Dallas unit in one season. Upon his hiring, Quinn inherited a defense that surrendered a franchise-worst 473 points in 2020. A year later, the group ranked seventh in points allowed and led the NFL with 34 takeaways. Quinn's attention to detail and hands-on approach translated to player production on the field. He optimized player growth in his 4-3, hybrid sub package system. Quinn served as the Seahawks' defensive coordinator in 2013-14, where he used a 4-3 base scheme. On the back end, he predominately utilized a single-high safety look and cover three in the secondary. He led the Seahawks to a Super Bowl win following the 2014 season and consecutive appearances in the title game, returning Seattle to their 'Legion of Boom' status. Quinn, who was hired by the Falcons in 2015, posted a record of 43-42 during his tenure as head coach and took Atlanta to Super Bowl LI in his second season. He was fired midway through the 2020 season, after an 0-5 start. During his sabbatical in 2020 following his release from the Falcons, Quinn used the time away from the game to re-evaluate his system and the evolution of offenses around the league. He made changes that paid dividends and maximized the Cowboys' personnel. Quinn's impact on the team is invaluable, garnering his placement on the countdown and a Dallas identity shift to the defense.

LB Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons achieved arguably the most dominant rookie season since Lawrence Taylor entered the league in 1981. The Cowboys drafted Parsons 12th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft to play the prototypical off-ball linebacker role but after catching a glimpse of his rare combination of size, speed and power during training camp from a myriad of roles, Quinn built the foundation of the defense around Parsons' versatility. Like a queen on the chessboard, the do-it-all phenom became a menace all over the field. Week by week, Parsons learned blitz packages and pass rush stunts at both linebacker and defensive end. During the 2021 season in Week Two, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence broke his foot and Randy Gregory landed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and as a result, Quinn moved Parsons to full-time defensive end against the Chargers out of necessity. Parsons played defensive end in high school and the intangibles/pass rush moves were still in his arsenal. Whether it was attacking through the A-gap or B-gap to knock down the quarterback, or outpacing rushers to the sideline, Parsons became a nightmare for offensive coordinators. He was the only rookie to earn first-team All-Pro and the only rookie defender named to the Pro Bowl – a telling feat. Parsons concluded the season as the first-ever unanimous Defensive Rookie of the Year and finished second in voting for Defensive Player of the Year, behind T.J. Watt. Despite the part-time role off the edge, Parsons compiled 13 sacks (franchise record), finishing sixth in the NFL in sacks, fourth in pressures (67) on 307 pass-rush snaps. His rare closing speed wreaks havoc on offensive game plans and No. 11 is a player the Bucs will have to account for on every play.

QB Dak Prescott

The unquestioned leader of the Dallas Cowboys is the man under center, Dak Prescott. During the Spring, Prescott underwent a full offseason program for the first time since 2019. He spent the majority of last offseason rehabbing from surgery to repair a right ankle fracture and dislocation that sidelined him for the final 11 games of 2020. After signing a $160 million contract extension, Prescott was a full participant to begin training camp in Oxnard but became limited due to a latissimus strain in his right, throwing shoulder. Through the first six games of 2021, Prescott played at an MVP-caliber level and was on pace to throw for 6,000 passing yards. During the six-game span, Prescott threw 16 touchdowns with four interceptions and posted a 115.0 passer rating. He injured his calf on the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime against the Patriots in Week Six and did not look quite the same after returning from his one-game hiatus. The club then had a bye and Prescott missed a game before returning in Week Nine. In the six games remaining, Dallas went 3-3 while Prescott threw for 1,568 yards with eight touchdowns, six interceptions and an 82.8 passer rating.

Prescott faced relentless criticism down the stretch. As the face of the franchise, most of the blame rested on his shoulders for the offense's demise. Did he have some missed throws and poor decisions? Sure. However, Prescott was not put in the best position to have success. Prescott operates best in a balanced, play-action centric offensive attack as a pass-run threat. However, with a broken run game during the second half of the season and an injury that caused hesitation initially to extend plays using his legs on designed rollouts or improvisation, Prescott was forced into becoming a 35-plus pocket passer. Due to the Cowboys' struggles with the offensive line and the run game, opponents generated pressure up front with less firepower to have more players in the secondary committed to pass catchers. This often led to receivers' inability to get open and Prescott having to go through frustrating checkdowns. Teams used zones and split safeties to smother Lamb and Cooper on the outside, but Dallas could not effectively exploit with underneath routes. Regardless of last year's outcome, the Cowboys know what they have in Prescott: a gritty player who is capable of making any throw. Prescott's ability to thread the needle on off-scheduled plays is rare. The mid-round draft pick plays with a chip on his shoulder and continues to overcome obstacles year-after-year. With arm strength and mobility, Prescott is a dynamic weapon. He graded in the top-10 among quarterbacks, which is where No. 4 belongs.

RG Zack Martin

This is not the sexiest or flashiest selection, but Zack Martin is the best at what he does. A top-tier guard in the league, Martin is the anchor of the Dallas offensive line achieving both consistency and longevity. Fundamentally, Martin is as close to perfection as you can get in the NFL. He is strong at the point of attack and is rarely out-leveraged in pass protection. Martin is the human embodiment of a roadblock and can do it all at a high-level. He dominates in the run game and a vast majority of Ezekiel Elliott's runs come behind No. 70. Martin excels as a puller, demolishing players in his path to open a seam for rushers. The Cowboys purposefully scheme inside zone runs because that is where Martin is. Dallas utilizes a screen-heavy attack, complementing Martin's second level blocking in space. He earned First Team All-Pro honors last season to go with seven Pro Bowl selections. He is the prototype for the standard of excellence in the NFL. Martin has made 120 starts – predominately at right guard – for the Cowboys since they drafted him with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Notre Dame product has earned All-Pro recognition in all but one of his eight seasons donning a Cowboys' jersey. Martin will undoubtably be enshrined in Canton for his contributions to the game of football following retirement. Dallas' offensive line is in a rebuild phase following the departures of La'el Collins (Bengals) and Connor Williams (Dolphins), but the staff knows that with Martin healthy, they can dominate the interior. A telling and comprehensive outlook of Martin's impact: the day after he was drafted in 2014, Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly told local DFW talk show hosts, "He's going to help you win the Super Bowl." He is a physical presence on the right side and a player that the Buccaneers will have to game-plan for.

WR CeeDee Lamb

The Cowboys moved on from Amari Cooper, making CeeDee Lamb the team's bonafide No. 1 receiver. Dallas did re-sign Michael Gallup, who tore his ACL in Week 17, but he will need the first few games of the 2022 season to recover. The Cowboys signed free agent James Washington, who asked the Steelers coaching staff for more opportunities last season. After Cedrick Wilson's departure to the Dolphins, the Cowboys were counting on Washington to be the third receiver. However, the receiving corps got hit with the injury bug. Washington is out six-ten weeks with a fracture in his right foot. Lamb led the team in receiving last season with 79 receptions for 1,102 yards and six touchdowns garnering his first Pro Bowl appearance. With a lack of experience around him on the depth chart including third-round pick Jalen Tolbert, Noah Brown, the six-year veteran known for his run-blocking, rookie free agent Dennis Houston and primary return man KaVontae Turpin, Lamb will have to step up in his third year. Lamb primarily lined up in the slot during his rookie year in 2020 benefiting his yards-after-catch ability, but following Gallup's injury last season, Lamb aligned wide on 83 percent of snaps (37 percent in games with Gallup) per Next Gen Stats. With a stellar catch radius, ability to adjust to the ball in flight, body control and nuanced route-running, Lamb is a big-play threat. He can break tackles with ease and the former Oklahoma product is effective both pre-catch and post-catch. As Prescott's new go-to target, Lamb is a player that the Bucs will have to scheme for. The Cowboys have a long history of players who donned the iconic 88 jersey including Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant. Lamb has continued the illustrious tradition, crafting his own legacy between the hash marks.

CB Trevon Diggs

Cornerback Trevon Diggs is one of the most polarizing players in the NFL. He earned a Pro Bowl nod and made the All-Pro team after tying Everson Walls for the most interceptions (11) in team history. The exceptional ball skills, instincts and awareness are evident in his play style; however, he still has a journey in proving he is a lockdown corner. In 2021, Diggs allowed a league-high 1,051 yards in coverage. He routinely puts himself in position to make a play on under-thrown balls and showcases the leaping ability to pick off on-target throws. Conversely, Diggs often appears to be chasing after his designated target. Diggs' rare anticipation is a byproduct of prior working experience at receiver. When he arrived on the scene at Alabama, Nick Saban switched Diggs from a receiver to a cornerback. The transition materialized into success, warranting a second-round selection by Dallas in the 2020 NFL Draft. His understanding of route concepts and ability to read the quarterback sparked a takeaway frenzy in 2021. Diggs plays in-phase, meaning he is in a slight trail technique (in receiver's back pocket) that allows him to play the ball – essentially becoming a receiver on the play. In that instance, the quarterback's throw must go through the cornerback. That style of play can lead to chunks of yardage given up. Out-of-phase is when the cornerback is in front of the receiver and must play through the receiver's hands, with the capability of influencing the receiver. The corner watches the receiver's eyes, hands, and hips to determine when the pass is coming. The outcome in out-of-phase is either batting the pass or immediately tackling the receiver when the ball is caught. Diggs' placement lends itself to takeaways but also can frequently result in yards given up while playing behind. The "ball-hawk" must be monitored on the back end.


Here are some specific ways in which the Cowboys excelled in 2021:

  • One of the keys to the Cowboys success last season was takeaways. In 2021, Dallas' defense forced a turnover on 17.5 percent of their opponents' drives, second highest in the NFL. When the Cowboys' defense gets an interception – which is frequently – they make the most of it. The team's 26 interceptions (11 by Trevon Diggs) accounted for 405 yards and culminated in five defensive touchdowns. Pressure created by the front seven forced errant throws and freed the secondary to reap the reward. Takeaways became an emphasis during the club's offseason prior to the start of the 2021 season and the ball/coordination drills paid off, as the Cowboys sat atop the pecking order in the category defensive coordinators covet. Takeaways often come in bunches and maintaining that level of success is something no team can bank on; however, having ball-hawks in the secondary and maulers up front certainly places the odds in the Cowboys' favor.
  • Prescott is one of the best in the game against the Blitz. In 2021, Prescott threw 23 touchdowns against the Blitz according to Next Gen Stats, seven more than the next closest quarterback (Matthew Stafford). There is a reason that opponents have turned away from utilizing man coverage and heavy blitz packages when facing Dallas, and that is because Prescott is proficient against it. The Mississippi State product thrives under pressure as an escape artist, creating something from nothing.
  • The Cowboys were the best team in the NFL last season at the end of the half, whether trying to extend the lead or cut the deficit. In the last two minutes prior to a half over 17 games, Dallas scored 105 points (68 in the first, 37 in the second). The Cowboys accumulated 11 touchdowns in the final two minutes – eight in the first half, three in the second. Prescott is known as a modern day "Mr. Comeback" and the stats speak for themselves. In crunch time, Prescott rallies the troops. If the Cowboys have the ball as time winds down in either the first or second half, the Buccaneers' defense will need to take it up a notch.
  • The Dallas defense imposed their will in blitz passing situations in 2021 and led the league with 88 completed blitzes. Opponents had the least amount of effectiveness against Quinn's menacing crew when they sent either an extra blitzer not on the line of scrimmage or when more than four players collapsed the pocket and got to the quarterback. On 88 blitzes, the Cowboys tallied 18 sacks for a loss of 135 yards and forced the lowest passer rating at 60.99. Quinn optimized talent with multiple looks up front, sending rushers from a variety of spots along the line of scrimmage, and linebackers through both the A and B gaps. With relentless pursuit, the Dallas defense struck fear. Additionally, their defense ranked third in the league with 188 pressures last season.


Many attributing factors led to the Cowboys' downward spiral last season, ending the team's quest for another Lombardi Trophy. Most notable:

  • Penalties killed drives for the Cowboys last season and gifted opponents. Dallas led the league in penalties with 127 accepted (62 offense, 48 defense) during the regular season. The flags accounted for 1,103 yards. Holding penalties – amidst a myriad of other transgressions – shifted the momentum to opponents. Negative plays put the Cowboys in unfavorable down-and-distance situations that resulted in slow starts. Self-inflicted wounds crippled the Cowboys and became an indicative factor in the team's abrupt end. In Mike McCarthy's season-ending press conference, he stressed the No. 1 priority moving forward was addressing penalties and disciplined play, primarily pre-snap.
  • The Cowboys ranked dead last in successfully converting in third-and-long situations (more than six yards to go to achieve a first down). On 95 third-and-long attempts, the Cowboys only converted 17 of those tries (17.9 percent). Penalties contributed to Dallas being put in disadvantageous situations that stalled drives.
  • As good as the Dallas defense was at creating takeaways, they also gave up the fourth most yards-after-catch (YAC) in 2021, allowing 2,335 yards (53.7 percent). The gambling play style led to chunk yardage being given up. Utilizing zone coverage on the back end and forcing things underneath, often results in YAC being gained by receivers and tight ends off a free release whether it is a comeback, dig, curl or crosser before a safety or cornerback closes in. That style of play is designed to prevent the deep ball but creates a disadvantage on the short-to-intermediate routes.

New Faces in 2022

Since the Bucs and Cowboys went head-to-head a year ago to kick off the 2021 season slate, Dallas has a new receiving corps, and their offensive line is undergoing a rebuild. During free agency, the Cowboys parted ways with left guard Connor Williams and moved on from right tackle La'el Collins. The latter move was in large part due to the staff's belief that Terence Steele is ready to assume the role at right tackle. The Cowboys selected Tyler Smith with their first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, a player they had rated higher on their draft board than Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson. Tyler Smith started 21 games at left tackle for Tulsa over the previous two seasons and the Cowboys drafted him to eventually be Tyron Smith's successor. However, that reality will start sooner than the club had hoped, after Tyron Smith suffered a torn left hamstring that will cause him to miss several months.

At receiver, The Cowboys traded Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and lost Cedrick Wilson to the Dolphins in free agency. Jalen Tolbert, the Cowboys' third-round draft pick out of South Alabama will be counted on early and often to help replace Cooper, with Michael Gallup set to miss several games early in the season while working his way back from a torn ACL. James Washington joined Dallas this offseason after signing a one-year contract. He spent the first four seasons of his NFL career with the Steelers, but fate dealt Dallas an unkind hand. Washington suffered a fractured right foot during training camp and will be out six to ten weeks. His injury throws a wrench in the Cowboys' plans. In his absence, the club's No. 1 receiver, CeeDee Lamb, will have to step up to offset the injuries, followed by Tolbert, Noah Brown and Simi Fehoko.

OT Tyler Smith

In April, the Cowboys took Tulsa's Tyler Smith with the 24th overall pick in the Draft. Smith started 23 of 25 games during his collegiate career and was a second-team All-American Athletic Conference pick in 2022. Penalties were an issue last season for Smith. He had 16 (12 holding) and could replace Williams, who was the most penalized lineman in the NFL a year ago (15 total, 12 accepted). Smith split work during minicamp/OTAs between guard and tackle, but during camp, he exclusively competed with Connor McGovern at left guard. McGovern is the projected starter at left guard and Smith could start at right tackle to replace Tyron Smith. Moving sides of the line is a challenging transition that requires adaption of hand placement and coordination. That is a lot to ask of a rookie, specifically one that could be the blind-side protector of Dak Prescott.

WR Jalen Tolbert

Dallas selected South Alabama Jaguars' wide receiver Jalen Tolbert in Round Three of the 2022 NFL Draft with the No. 88 overall pick. He was a big-play threat in college, averaging 18 yards per reception in 2021. The first task at hand for Tolbert is engendering trust with the coaching staff and with Prescott. Luckily for Tolbert, Prescott possesses the ability to hit receivers in stride and can extend plays outside of structure with his legs, which can create additional opportunities for the first-year player. Tolbert has the flexibility of working on both intermediate and deep routes – taking the top off defenses with vertical routes. As Tolbert continues to develop and adjust to the pros, he could earn a significant role in Kellen Moore's system.

DEs Sam Williams and Dante Fowler Jr.

Sam Williams, the Cowboys' second-round draft pick out of Ole Miss has continued to make his presence known throughout training camp/the preseason as he develops his speed, power and technique. With good explosiveness off the snap and an effective bull rush, Williams is making his mark donning a Cowboys' jersey. With the departure of Randy Gregory, Williams will get the chance to become a Day One contributor opposite DeMarcus Lawrence in Quinn's rotation, along with Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr.

In March, the Cowboys agreed on a one-year deal with Dante Fowler Jr. Fowler, a former No. 3 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2016 NFL Draft, has 35 career sacks but only 7.5 accumulated over the past two seasons in Atlanta. The Cowboys are hopeful that a reunion with Quinn – who started the 2020 season as the Falcons' head coach - will revitalize Fowler's career. In his two seasons in Atlanta, Fowler registered 59 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 19 game starts (28 games played). The most productive stint of his career came in 2019 with the Los Angeles Rams, where he posted 11.5 sacks – the only time in his career Fowler has hit double-digit sacks.

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