Dallas defense better than advertised 5 weeks into season

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brandon Wade/AP/Shutterstock (13435805cm) Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) is seen during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, in Arlington, Texas. Dallas won 25-10 Commanders Cowboys Football, Arlington, United States – 02 Oct 2022

Dallas defense better than advertised 5 weeks into season

Just five weeks into the 2022 season, and the Cowboys’ defense is downright dominating.

It is easy to see why when you put on the tape.

“We (are) the best defense in the F’ing league, point blank period,” said defensive end Demarcus Lawrence when asked what this team had to prove. “Going out, each and every week, setting that tone and being able to instill fear into other offenses. And, also, going out there with that speed and that intensity. That’s what we’re all about.”

Guys like linebacker Micah Parsons, corner Trevon Diggs, safety Donovan Wilson, and Lawrence have grabbed the headlines early this season, and rightfully so, with how each of them has made significant plays that have the Cowboys sitting at 4-1 on the season.

But it is the guys you don’t always hear about that has this team playing like it wants to be the NFL’s best defensive unit.

The Cowboys easily go nine deep on the defensive front, getting steady contributions from starters Lawrence, Quinton Bohanna, Osa Odighizuwa, and Dorance Armstrong, but also from the second group of Tarell Basham, Neville Gallimore, Trysten Hill, Dante Fowler Jr., and Sam Williams.

“It’s a beautiful thing to see your guys running around making plays, having a good time,” Lawrence said. “We work so hard throughout the week, making sure that we are locked in on our details so that now it’s time to come out here and party.”

The Cowboys are almost as deep on the backend, with starting safeties Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker, and Wilson, and corners Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, and Diggs leading the charge.

“That is the thing with game plans, people key on certain players, and that creates opportunities for other people,” Parsons said about the depth. “When it is your time to step up, you have to step up and make those plays that way, you get more playing time. It’s a fight for playin’ time. There are so many good players on this roster and this defense that you gotta keep trying to be better every week.”

“The depth overall. … We are just deep at every position,” Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott added about the defense. “We have the right culture going, and we just have to keep growing and getting better.”

The Cowboys started the season by giving up just 19 points to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it has only gotten better from there.

That depth is showing up big on the scoreboard.

The Cowboys gave up 17 to the defending AFC champion Bengals, 16 to the Giants, and 10 each to the Commanders and defending Super Bowl champion Rams.

“If we go out there and put 20 points up on the board, we have a good chance to win that ballgame,” Elliott said. “We go against (our) defense every day, and they’re a handful, so I feel bad for those opposing offenses.”

While struggling against the run, the Cowboys have shut down some prolific passing games. They held Brady to 212 yards in the loss to the Bucs. They then held Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, New York’s Daniel Jones, and Washington’s Carson Wentz all below 200 yards before giving up 308 to Matthew Stafford, who has 61 300-plus yard passing games in his career.

That number is a bit skewed, with the Cowboys giving up 129 of those yards on a 75-yard one-handed catch and run for a touchdown by Cooper Kupp and a 54-yard rainbow from Stafford to Tutu Attwell that led to a field goal.

The next test for the defense comes in the form of quarterback Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Cowboys will have to account for Hurts’ arm and legs, the first time they will face a real dual-threat quarterback this season.

Hurts has thrown for 1,120 yards and four touchdowns, rushed for another 205 yards and four touchdowns while leading the Eagles to a 5-0 record.

“It’s a division game, and they’re the only undefeated team in the league,” Parsons said. “We have to come to play. We have to keep doing what we are doing. They have a really explosive offense, but we have a really explosive defense, and we have to show it next (Sunday). It’s going to be a true test.”

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