Aug 17, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) stretches during warm ups before the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Cowboys 12-7. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys Defense Takes Yet Another Hit

Another day comes and goes and yet another hit is delivered to the Dallas Cowboys defense.

March 12 - The Dallas Cowboys choose to release the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks, allowing DeMarcus Ware to move on based largely on his age and injury issues that reduced his playmaking abilities

May 28 - The Cowboys best defensive player, Sean Lee, tore his ACL and his meniscus during OTA’s and is lost for the entire year.

July 27 - Terrell McClain, a much needed free agent addition to a lackluster defensive line, suffers a high ankle sprain in practice and has not been back since.

July 29 - Rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, whom the Cowboys gave up a third round pick and swapped second round spots to acquire, breaks a bone in his foot and will be out 8-10 weeks, likely missing the first month of the season.

July 30 - Defensive back Morris Claiborne injures his right knee in practice and missed almost two weeks of camp, only returning recently to do individual drills but no team work as of yet.

August 3 - Starting safety Barry Church injures his ankle and just returned back to practice Saturday.

August 9 – Also returning to practice after extensive time missed were linebacker Rolando McClain and cornerbacks Sterling Moore and Brandon Carr who has missed the entire camp dealing with a personal matter.

And now the next in an all too long line of issues comes from cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who has just been suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy  in regard to performance enhancing drugs.  As you may or may not know, Scandrick is for all intents and purposes, the vocal leader of the defense.  He is the one that seems to have the most confidence and swagger to him.  He’s the one that seems to never back down, regardless of the challenge before him.  He’s been lauded for his intelligence numerous times by coaches and evaluators alike.  Last month, he delivered a quote that echoed these sentiments when asked about the direction of the defense:

“We were the last-ranked total defense, so we can’t go anywhere but up from here, but that’s not going to change just by showing up.  We’ve to have an attitude about us as a defense, and we’re going to have to play together.  Playing together stops a lot of the things that happened that caused us to be the 32nd-ranked defense.  I just think this year is going to be different.  I don’t know if I’m just an optimist, but I really feel that this year is going to be different.  We have a different group of guys.  We have some younger guys. We have a lot of guys who have a lot to prove.  We have some younger guys who want to prove they can play in this league.  We have some other younger guys who want to prove they can be starters in this league.  I really think from the bottom of my heart that we have a chance to be a solid defense this year.”

And then he goes and does this??

Apparently he is saying his ex-girlfriend persuaded him to include Ecstasy in a drink while on vacation.  Not shockingly, this is on the NFL’s banned substance listed.  My question is this… how does such a smart guy do such a dumb thing?  You would think that you would know at the very least that there is a banned substance list and you would check before putting anything into your body to make sure you did not violate such a list, right?  To me, this comes across as lazy, dumb and selfish.  If it was an honest mistake, it’s a dumb one.  It’s certainly lazy not to know such a thing is on the list and it’s selfish for putting yourself before the team, especially when you’re looked upon as a leader, vocal or otherwise.

As it relates to the defense, it’s another degree of difficulty added that certainly was not needed.  It’s now guaranteed that Lee, Lawrence and now Scandrick will miss the first four games of the season.  It’s likely Anthony Spencer also misses at least the first game as well.  For a defense that is being built on depth due to a lack of individual talent, missing four key contributors is a huge amount of adversity to overcome.  That is of course assuming that everyone else is healthy enough to make it to the regular season.

If there is a silver lining in any of this, it’s that the first three opponents on the Cowboys schedule do not feature any “A-List” quarterbacks.  Yes, Colin Kaepernick is dynamic, but he doesn’t instill fear in opposing defenses when it comes to his abilities to dissect defenses with his throwing prowess.  He has only managed two 300-yard passing days in 32 career games.  The other two guys, Jake Locker and Sam Bradford have a career 3 in 23 games and 7 in 49 games respectively.  Unfortunately, game four happens to be against Drew Brees who has a habit of making good defenses look bad and bad defenses look abysmal.

Regardless of all that, once again it’s another hit that this defense did not need.  Next Man Up once again appears to be Next Man Down.  Hopefully for the Dallas defense, this is the last of it.

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Tags: Brandon Carr Dallas Cowboys Morris Claiborne Orlando Scandrick Sterling Moore

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