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Coming into the 2020 NFL season, expectations were high for the Dallas Cowboys. The majority of experts and analysts picked the Cowboys to win the NFC East, which at this point is easily the worst division in the league. Entering Week 4, it was the only division in which no team was above .500 and also the only one with two winless teams. So it’s not as if the Cowboys have to be a great team to get into the postseason. But they’re not even a good team at this point, especially on defense.

Sure, the offense has done what everyone expected. Coming into the Week 4 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, Dak Prescott & Co. had put up more yards than any team in football and scored the eighth-most points. But the defense has been atrocious. In fact, after giving up .. points against the Browns on Sunday, the 2020 Dallas Cowboys’ defense is on pace to become the worst defense in NFL history as it pertains to points allowed.

The Dallas Cowboys are running a new defensive scheme in 2020

When Mike McCarthy replaced Jason Garrett as the the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys this past January, he completely overhauled the rest of the coaching staff as well, all except offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Feeling Rod Marinelli’s defense was too predictable, McCarthy replaced him with former San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Nolan, who’d spent the previous three seasons as the linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints.

Nolan introduced a new scheme meant to confuse opposing offenses with its flexibility and unpredictability, which obviously hasn’t worked. Communication breakdowns have led to the Dallas Cowboys giving up a large number of big plays this season, including a few against the Browns on Sunday. Yes, there have been some key injuries, especially in the secondary, and there were no preseason games to work on things. But every team has had to deal with the exact same things. And those same teams aren’t on pace to have the worst defense in NFL history.

The 2020 Dallas Cowboys’ defense is on pace to become the worst in NFL history

After giving up 49 points to the Browns on Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys’ defense has now given up 146 points through four games. If this pace continues, they’ll give up a total of 584 points in 2020, which would break the all-time record for most points allowed in a single NFL season. The current mark is 533, which was set by the Baltimore Colts in 1981.

Furthermore, the Dallas Cowboys are giving up an average of 36.5 points per game. If that continues, they’ll beat the 35.8 mark set by the New York Giants in 1966, who gave up a total of 501 points in 14 games that season.

The offense nearly bailed them out against the Browns


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After the defense allowed the Cleveland Browns to take a 41-14 lead, they did get a couple of big stops in the fourth quarter, which allowed Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys’ offense to get the team back in the game. Dallas managed to get the lead down to three but a 51-yard run from Odell Beckham Jr. and a crazy two-point conversion gave Cleveland an 11-point lead, 49-38, with just over three minutes to play.

Prescott marched the team down the field again but threw his first interception of the day with 1:36 remaining to kill the comeback. In total, the Dallas’ Cowboys defense gave up 508 total yards, 307 on the ground and 201 in the air.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference