Which unsung defensive backs with ties to Dan Quinn and Joe Whitt Jr. could the Washington Commanders target this offseason?
In 2020 - the last season in which the Washington Commanders made the playoffs - the Dallas Cowboys defense was a train wreck. It was their first and only season under the leadership of veteran coordinator Mike Nolan. The unit allowed just under 30 points per game - fifth worst in the league.
The defensive backs, coached by Maurice Linguist, were especially bad. They allowed 7.4 yards-per-pass-attempt. That’s not very good, but it’s not horrendous. However, they also gave up 34 passing touchdowns and managed just seven interceptions. Those numbers qualify as horrendous.
Nolan and Linguist were both terminated after the season. To repair the damage, the Cowboys turned to the recently fired Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. He, in turn, recruited the secondary coach who had been with him in 2019 before taking another job. His name was Joe Whitt Jr.
Whitt handled the defensive backs and served as the passing game coordinator. Along with Quinn's influence, the Cowboys' turn-around was immediate.
Overall, the defense allowed 8.5 fewer points per game in 2021, going from one of the league’s worst to among the best. The secondary gave up 10 fewer touchdowns while managing 19 additional interceptions. This is roughly equivalent to what Fairy Godmother did for Cinderella.
No one is going to confuse Quinn and Whitt for that, but they will be coming to Washington with similar intentions. The Commanders' secondary is in bad need of a makeover. Its two best players - Kendall Fuller and Kamren Curl - are both free agents this year. Their future remains in doubt.
The rest of the roster is filled with some talented young players who have thus far underachieved. Benjamin St-Juste, Emmanuel Forbes, and Percy Butler to be precise. Promising free safety Darrick Forrest was hurt most of last year. Rookie Quan Martin played well at times but still struggled with both injuries and inconsistencies.
Even if the Commanders can retain both Fuller and Curl - something that does not seem likely at the moment - they will need additional reinforcements. Here are three young veteran free agents, plus a fourth potential salary cap cut, who might provide needed help.