All of the excitement surrounding the Dallas Cowboys entering the 2021 season is focused on the offense. Dak Prescott’s return to the football field. The Big Three at wide receiver. Tyron Smith and La’el Collins back.

There is a lot to be excited about.

The defense, on the other hand, has more questions than answers. Will Randy Gregory play a full season? Can Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith bounce back after poor 2020 campaigns? Who emerges in the secondary?

Dan Quinn has his hands full, but there is some talent to work with. DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the leaders of the defense. Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox should bolster the linebacker corps. Trevon Diggs and Donovan Wilson have flashed promise.

The Talkin’ The Star crew discussed what needs to happen in order for the Cowboys to have a top-16 defense. Not top-10, just a league average defense. We came up with three things.

Improved Cowboys secondary

Both Diggs and Wilson have potential, but neither have shown enough to fully buy into just yet. Still, those are your two most talented defensive backs and both have the ability to take that next step with Dan Quinn’s coaching.

Other than that, there are a lot of concerns. What happens with Jourdan Lewis and Reggie Robinson? Both have the ability to play safety but it looks like for now that they will stick at corner. Does Keanu Neal play any safety or will he stick at linebacker?

The Cowboys desperately need improved secondary play in 2021.

Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush

Secondly, the Dallas Cowboys pass rush has to be better. That should be the case with more of Randy Gregory. Gregory has all of the talent in the world but has been unable to play a full season. A 17-game season from Gregory would be huge for the Cowboys.

A steady and strong pass rush would go a long way in the Cowboys’ secondary taking a jump.

Linebackers have to be better

There is a reason why the Cowboys drafted two linebackers in April: the position was a weakness in 2020. Both LVE and Smith have regressed, which ultimately impacted the rest of the Cowboy defense.

Parsons has the ability to make an immediate impact as a pass rusher. Cox should find a role as well, thanks to his ability in coverage. Dallas also, of course, added Keanu Neal through free agency in hopes of improving that unit.

We discussed that and more on the podcast, which you can listen to below:

Featured image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Cole covers the Dallas Cowboys for A To Z Sports Dallas. He spent three seasons working in an SEC football recruiting department at Mississippi State University under Joe Moorhead (2018 & 2019) and Mike Leach (2020) while earning his degree in Sports Administration with a concentration in Communication. He previously covered the Cowboys for Blogging The Boys, and he is a former editorial intern at Dave Campbell's Texas Football.