Dan Quinn and the Dallas Cowboys Used an Unconventional Tactic to Combat 1 of the New England Patriots’ Greatest Strengths

The Dallas Cowboys enter their Week 6 matchup against the New England Patriots, boasting a 4-1 record. Dak Prescott‘s return to the fold has done wonders for Dallas to begin the 2021 NFL season. Dan Quinn‘s impact on the defense has been massive, though.

The first-year Cowboys defensive coordinator wants to ensure his guys are ready for anything the Patriots throw their way.

The Cowboys’ defense has improved in 2021

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense was mediocre in 2020. The unit finished near the bottom of the NFL in team defense.

Dallas allowed nearly 30 points and 386.4 points per game to opposing offenses. Teams licked their chops when they saw the Cowboys on their schedule because of the defense’s susceptibility to big plays.

To be fair, Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury stalled the Cowboys’ offense. As a result, more pressure ended up on the shoulders of the defense.

The 2021 version of the defense is much better than the unit Dallas fielded in 2020. Under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the Cowboys are currently No. 14 in total defense.

The defense is allowing 23.4 points and 390.4 yards per game. This is, by no means, an elite defensive unit, but there’s progress. Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons have emerged as the future stars for Dallas’ defense.

Dan Quinn wore a helmet in practice to simulate Patriots’ cut blocks

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn looks on; Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels looks on during practice
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on the sideline during a game | Julio Aguilar/Getty Images; New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels watches practice | Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Under the leadership of Dan Quinn, the Cowboys are no longer push-overs on defense. He won’t allow it.

In Week 6, Dallas travels to New England to match up with two of the brightest coaches in the NFL from a strategy perspective.

The current Patriots offense pales in comparison to that of the days of Tom Brady and company. However, Bill Belichick has the team ready to play more often than not.

Over the years, strong offensive line play has supported New England’s offense. Their blocking scheme features cut blocks, and the Patriots use them more often than most teams.

Dan Quinn decided to get his hands dirty to prepare the Cowboys’ defense for its upcoming opponents. He put a helmet on and led his players in some pass rush drills. The purpose of the drill was for Quinn to simulate New England’s cut blocks.

Cowboys players react to Dan Quinn

The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of youth on their defense. So far, it appears as if the young players have bought into Dan Quinn’s philosophies.

The former Atlanta Falcons head coach’s unique tactic went over well with his players. “That’s the type of hands-on coach he is,” said Micah Parsons per The Athletic.  “My man put a helmet on and started diving at knees.”

Defensive end Randy Gregory chimed in as well. “I was a little bit surprised by it,” he said. “He was just trying to give us a look from that end. It was funny to see him have it on and struggle to take it off…He was kind of cutting us a little bit harder, a little bit faster than I was expecting him to.”

It’s rare to see coaches wearing helmets at practice, but clearly, Quinn is serious about his efforts to turn the Cowboys’ defense around.

Dallas looks like one of the best teams in the NFL through the first five weeks. Dan Quinn and the development of the defense can ensure their success continues.

All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

RELATED: The Patriots’ Path to Upsetting the Cowboys Boils Down to an Even Bigger Matchup Than Dak Prescott vs. Mac Jones