Welcome to the 2014 version of Plugging the Holes, an eight-part examination from Football Outsiders of the biggest needs for every NFL team, division by division, going into the offseason.
In this edition, we look at the four NFC East teams.
Dallas Cowboys: Safety
Defending the tight end has been a recurring issue for the Cowboys. Over the past two seasons, Dallas has been last in the league in DVOA against tight ends largely because of the void they have at safety. (DVOA is Football Outsiders' defense-adjusted value over average metric, explained here.)
After releasing veteran Gerald Sensabaugh in March, Dallas was left with a group of safeties that had made a combined 14 starts in the NFL prior to 2013. Will Allen was brought in during free agency to provide leadership opposite of Barry Church but was released after Week 5, playing just 163 ineffective snaps on defense. Matt Johnson was a hopeful starter in training camp, but a stress reaction in his foot caused the 2012 fourth-round pick to be placed on injured reserve in August. That left the Cowboys with third-round draft pick J.J. Wilcox, undrafted rookie free agent Jeff Heath and special teams standout Danny McCray, who struggled tremendously after being thrust into a starting position in 2012.