Yeah, rewatching that Cowboys game, it was interesting to hear Singletary refer to our defense as being "vanilla." LOL. It was also interesting to hear that Manusky would rather have more INT's then sacks. I think both are merely stating the type of defense we have. Again, we don't have a dominant NT who can push the C/G back into the QB's face on a regular basis. We only have one DE that commands double teams. While Haralson benefitted from solid coverage in the secondary, teams now have tape of him and he's going to play every down. Lawson is still overrunning plays, misreading them and has never had anything more then quickness that can help him get consistent pressure. Scheme is another major issue as we not only ARE vanilla (talent-wise) but so too is our scheme. This means that we rarely use the ILB's & safety & CB positions to blitz and rely on the OLB's to do this on the LOS from predictable positions. Lawson and Haralson WILL wear down. Keep that in mind. So are Harris/Brooks better then B.Moore/R.Green? TBC & J.Moore? B/c trust me, we're going to need them. This is going to be another year where QB's will have all day to sit back and scan the field and pick apart our conservative secondary.
I am encouraged that this preseason I did see more ILB blitzes esp. with Spikes, more CB blitzes and Goldson always appears to be in the right spots which is encouraging. I've seen some great play by Bly & Brown so that should help Clements out quite a bit. I'm not sold on Michael Lewis again esp. now that he's older and has two concussions and he's really nothing more then a one-dimensional player. I'd like to see Smith get a crack there at some point during the season.
Again, next year, we need to set a premium of obtaining that dominant NT, LDE, proven pass rushing OLB's & RT...basically, the same problems we've had for the past six+ years now. And equally important, Manusky needs to learn how to run a proper 3-4. The Cowboys certainly didn't hold back or play vanilla against us all the way through the 4th quarter. A 3-4 rushes, disguises blitzes, practices them, perfects them and dictates the offense. We don't do ANY of these things. Don't buy into, "We're playing vanilla. We don't want to show our hand"-theory. If you watch any other 3-4 defense, they are clearly practicing their blitzing schemes, adding new wrinkles, etc. - perhaps not the whole game but they certainly aren't holding back completely and are winning most of the 1-on-1's.
So to answer your question, I could actually see us being worse this year. We have a chance
for being a little better then 30 sacks (barring injury) but again, most of these will be coverage sacks and few, if any, will have any real impact during a game IMHO.