Recently when asked about the Dallas defense in 2014, Jerry commented that they couldn’t be worse than last season. No place to go but up, he explained. But is that really the case? A former Cowboy who played on super bowl winning teams, Charles Haley, stated that actually it was the Dallas offense that needs to get it’s stuff together. Haley said,
“You know what, we need a better offense. And not worry about the defense. Because if we put some points up on the board, then teams gonna to have to just throw the ball. And what we’ve been lacking is the teams can run and throw. When you make them one-dimensional then you can defeat them better.”
I have respect for the Cowboy players who played on super bowl winning teams and pay attention to their assessments of the current situation in Dallas. But I must admit when I first read Haley’s comments, I thought here is another example of a NFL player with too many head injuries or something. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it started to make.
I’m not going to tell you that Dallas defense was good in 2013 because they weren’t. The numbers and rankings speak for themselves and I have pointed out their need to improve areas like the defensive line. There was Manning and the Broncos scoring 51 points and Brees leading the Saints to a record breaking number of first downs. Calvin Johnson having a season worth of yards in one game. When the Dallas defense was bad, it was VERY bad.
But at times, the defense played well in 2013 and I’m afraid it actually could have been worse, believe it or not.
Play in game Eagles:
In the final game where a win clinches a East title, the defense had an impressive goal line stand in that game and they had a big stop late in the game to give the offense a chance to win it. But a late interception thrown by Kyle Orton (the offense) actually ended their chances to win.
The Dallas defense produced one turnover but the Dallas offense committed three turnovers. Two INTs by Orton and an important fumble loss by Murray.
Another key play was the failed two point conversion by the offense that would have tied the game.
The defense wasn’t perfect in this crucial division game but I would argue it was good enough to give them an opportunity to win.
Eagles Game One:
The Eagles eventually won the division but in their first meeting, the Dallas defense was outstanding holding the Eagles to only a field goal in a game Dallas won 17-3. The Cowboys defense came up with three INTs in that game to offset two INTs thrown by Romo. The defense didn’t allow the Eagles to take advantage of the Romo turnovers.
An example of a great game by the Dallas defense in 2013.
In week 3, the Dallas defense held the Rams to just 7 points in a nice win for the team.
Another game where the Dallas defense was solid.
Week 1 the Giants Home away from Home:
The Giants had dominated play in the Cowboys stadium in recent years but it was the defense that picked Manning off three times in the game including a game sealing 40 yard TD on a pick by Brandon Carr.
It was the defense that played a huge role in ending the Giants dominance in their home away from home.
The short comings of the Dallas defense in 2013 were certainly well documented.
But in NFC East play in 2013, the Cowboys defense allowed an average of 19.6 points a game. Not bad. That should have been good enough to go undefeated in the East and lead to a playoff birth. And Dallas almost did go undefeated in the East and win the division if not for that loss to the Eagles in the final game. There is plenty of blame to go around for last season on both sides of the ball.
To Jerry’s point, at times the defense was absolutely awful and appears to have no where to go but up. But to Haley’s point, that Dallas offense could have been better at times too in 2013, and doesn’t deserve a free pass. The offense must establish a run game and then stick with it for the whole game. And avoid becoming one dimensional.
With the loss of Ware, Hatcher, and now Sean Lee on defense, I don’t dare say that defense can’t get worse in 2014 and if it does decline, the offense will need to step it up.