Is this the week the Dallas Cowboys defense shows up?

Jaylon Smith, Dallas Cowboys (Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
Jaylon Smith, Dallas Cowboys (Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /

After an atrocious first five weeks, the Dallas Cowboys defense should be back

No one can say that the Dallas Cowboys defense has played well. Don’t get me wrong; they have made some good plays; they just haven’t been consistent.

Some reasons as to why they are not playing as expected are visible, but can the team fix it? After five weeks of terrible defense, can the team finally pull it together this week?

There were a lot of changes to the coaching staff this offseason. Dallas brought in a new head coach and a new defensive coordinator. Not only did the players need to learn a new system, but they had no preseason games and a shortened offseason.

It is a lot for a team to try and change around a defense from a conservative style of play to an aggressive style of play. Players had a hard time grasping the different formations, stances, etc. Just ask defensive end, DeMarcus Lawrence.

Even if the Cowboys defense did pick up the new system, they wouldn’t be playing well. That is because countless injuries have struck the team.

Within the first two weeks, the team lost four defensive players due to injury. All four of them would have had a good impact on the team’s performance. When you’re missing multiple players (especially starters), the team will not play as well as they should.

Dallas has been without one defensive lineman, two defensive backs, and two linebackers for a while now. Luckily for them, the players put on injured reserve should be returning to the team.

Returning players making a difference

Cornerback Anthony Brown returned on Sunday after missing three weeks and returned a fumble for a touchdown. Leighton Vander Esch might return at linebacker, with Chidobe Awuzie possibly returning at cornerback this week.

Awuzie was the number one cornerback heading into the season and would be needed on Monday to help stop star wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins. LVE led the team in tackles in 2018 and could have done so in 2019 had he not been injured for seven weeks.

Quarterback, Kyler Murray, has been a lethal dual-threat. To stop him, the Cowboys will need to contain him. That means defensive ends Lawrence and Aldon Smith must find ways to attack him while the interior line prevents running lanes.

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Once that is done, you need the defensive backs to stop three great wide receivers. Keeping up with them all game is going to be difficult. Forcing a turnover or two would be their best shot at doing so.

Having defensive coordinator Mike Nolan on the sidelines rather than up in the booth is expected to have a positive impact on the team. Week 5 was the first game he was on the field, and the defense did look better. Then again, they gave up 34 points to the New York Giants.

Hopefully, the team can build on the positives and try to minimize the mistakes. That is their job, so they don’t have any other choice.

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Yes, it is going to be a tough matchup for the Cowboys defense. I’m banking on the returning players making a difference. If they can keep the Cardinals to under 30 points, I will be very impressed.