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Cowboys’ D needs to force turnovers through aggressive play

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At NBC, I explained why defenses must use a more aggressive attack than they’ve ever employed before.

Not long ago, there was a lot of value in playing a conservative style of defense in the NFL. Offenses ran the ball way too much—they still do, but it’s getting better—and there wasn’t nearly as much scoring as in today’s game. That meant the value of each possession wasn’t all that great. For so long, offenses actually viewed punting as a quality option (even though it’s really a turnover). As long as they didn’t throw an interception or fumble the ball, all was good.

Fast-forward to today and we have a rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III who broke the NFL’s single-season record for passer rating against the blitz. Not for a rookie—for any player ever. Today’s offenses are so much more high-powered than they once were. How about this stat: of the top nine individual seasons in terms of passing yards, all but one (Dan Marino in 1984) has come since 2008. Seven of the nine have been in the past two seasons!

And it’s getting even better for offenses. The rules are set up for them to exploit, and a recent wave of offensive innovation—think Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly types—means we’re going to see offenses continue to grow almost exponentially.

That means that defenses must adapt by playing more aggressively. Since offenses are scoring more often, the value of each possession has increased quite a bit.

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