Dallas Cowboys’ Defense – Shut Up & Play!
There’s nothing like the satisfaction that accompanies a job well done, especially as part of a team. The Dallas Cowboys spent the latter half of Sunday afternoon enjoying a high level of team satisfaction after a win over the Tennessee Titans. As they say, to the winner belongs the spoils. And one of the NFL spoils is the small window of time to talk about gridiron accomplishments before their obligatory preparation for their next opponent. And talk they did, especially in light of all the off-season doubts spewed their way by know-it-all media types.
However, it is always wise to temper such verbosity with as much reality as possible. The Dallas Cowboys Defensive players might want to remember such wisdom so soon removed from establishing franchise records as the worst defense, especially after such comments as these:
- “We were able to impose our will,” safety Barry Church proclaimed.
- “We didn’t budge,” defensive end Jeremy Mincey said.
- “We came out with a sense of purpose,” cornerback Morris Claiborne declared.
- “We all played together,” safety J.J. Wilcox said. “The D-line played solid. The linebackers played solid. The secondary —we capitalized on the mistakes they made. I think we did good.”
- “Our defense is not the same defense,” Claiborne said. “I say that to anybody. If you don’t see that, you must be blind.”
- “Our goal is to be one of the best [defenses],” Claiborne said. “A lot of people are sleeping on us right now. We feel it. We feel it as a unit. But we don’t need anybody else but the people that are in this locker room.”
That was the verbosity. Now for a little reality.
The Cowboys lead the league in the least Defensive time spent on the field, averaging only 23:42 after two games. In case you didn’t know, that’s not very much average time spent stopping your opponent, especially after the running attack against the Titans, led by DeMarco Murray’s 29 carries, ate up more than 41 minutes. Credit should be given to a Cowboys offense obviously committed to the run and eating up the clock.
Directly related to defensive time on the field is the number of plays by the defense. The Cowboys rank 3rd in the league for the fewest number of plays defended with 103. Again, thanks to a time eating Cowboys offense should be extended.
Please, don’t think that I’m completely overlooking the fact that the Cowboys defense had a great 1st half against the Titans, with multiple three and outs. Because I’m not. But I expect others to not overlook the fact that this was Jake Locker at QB. This wasn’t Aaaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, etc. And the previous week against San Francisco, Colin Kaepernick, who is definitely not Jake Locker, was handed a lead, a very short field on turnovers and the luxury of managing a sizeable lead without the need for heroics on his part. Kaepernick proved more than capable.
After two games, the Cowboys are tied for 23rd with the Bengals and Panthers in average yards per rush on Defense at 4.9 . Compare that to 2013’s 30th place ranking at 4.7 yards a carry and it’s obvious that work remains to be done, especially after yielding 6.3 yards a carry against the Titans.
Then there’s the interception by Rolando McClain after the Titans had put up 10 points in short order to begin the second half. With the Titans on the move again, McClain makes a circus catch worthy of the finest trapeze artist and juggler to stop the Titans from potentially taking the lead in the 3rd quarter.
I hope the idea is starting to sink in.
Wins are hard to come by in the NFL and should be enjoyed and celebrated. But there are limits. And until these Cowboys achieve a worthwhile goal, they should let reality guide them and keep working. As much as they want to be good, they have a whole host of fans who want the same and will rejoice with them in their success. Go Cowboys!