May 21, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Anthony Hargrove (99) defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (90) and linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) during organized team activities at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys: Can Their Defense Carry Them To The Playoffs?

If the Dallas Cowboys want any chance of making the post season this year, they’ll have to rely on their defensive prowess to get them there.  Although this is may seem like a odd notion at first given the Cowboys defensive inconsistencies in the past, thus far the Cowboys defense has succeeded in keeping this finicky franchise competitive.  Although the Cowboys probably won’t garner six turnovers in a single game like they did in their season opener, they have the potential and the skill to intimidate their opponent while providing some much needed relief for the Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

While the Cowboys defense may lack the size and proven consistency that has made the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks respective defenses so formidable, they now have a squad that is more confident and persistent.  More specifically, the Cowboys secondary and pass rushers have stepped up tremendously to provide their team with a well rounded defensive approach that allows them to force three and outs while taking advantage of turnover opportunities. 

By far the Cowboys biggest defensive contributor is their stout defensive end DeMarcus Ware.  In his first game, Ware aggressively oppressed Eli Manning when he managed to sack him twice while intercepting a pass.  Although Ware’s ferocious presence wasn’t felt in the Cowboy’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, they still managed to sack Alex Smith four times for 24 yards.  Along with that, the Cowboys defensive front as a whole hasn’t allowed a team to average more than five yards per rushing attempt.  While the Cowboys secondary is still a work in progress, it still prevented Alex Smith from completing long pass attempts as they only allowed Smith to average 5.5 yards per pass attempt.

 Yet, the question isn’t if the Cowboys have a solid defense. Rather, the more intriguing inquiry is if the Cowboys can remain defensively prepared throughout the entire season.  Now more than ever, the Cowboys need a defense that is consistent and aware due to the fact that their offense lacks a dynamic flow where by their passing game and running game are constantly in sync.  As a result, the Cowboys defense can expect to be on the field more often than they would like to be.  Assuming this is the case, the weight of this responsibility cannot solely fall on the Cowboys veterans to be clutch time and time again.  If the Cowboys want be successful defensively throughout the rest of the regular season, their rookies defenders will have to be ready to take reins when the time comes.

Although the Cowboys draft selections were fairly controversial overall, they at least found a few defensive gems that could be effective if utilized properly.  The Cowboys first defensive selection in safety J.J. Wilcox could very well provide the foundation with which their other defensive rookies could emulate to become just as prestigious.  While Wilcox was only a safety for one year at Georgia Southern, his experience as a wide receiver gives him a decisive advantage.  His speed and well rounded knowledge of both offensive and defensive schemes will allow him to effectively predict receiving routes while watching the eyes of the quarterback to find a subtle tell that will give him the input that he needs to make a spectacular defensive play.  So far, Wilcox has only garnered two combined tackles but given more game time participation to sharpen his already reliable skill set, Wilcox could be the breakout secondary leader that the Cowboys have been looking for.

In the end, the Cowboys have shown tremendous promise with their intriguing defense that has thus far been a prominent force to be reckoned with.  While their rookies still need time prove their abilities, their veterans have stepped up and haven’t allowed their last two opponents to score with ease.  If the Cowboys can build open the successes of their last two games, they could feasibly make the playoffs for the first time since 2009. 

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  • JoeDaBeast

    Good insight on Wilcox, but, “While the Cowboys secondary is still a work in progress, it still prevented Alex Smith from completing long pass attempts as they only allowed Smith to average 5.5 yards per pass attempt.” Check the tape from Week1. That is Alex Smith’s way of playing. Look back to his days at San Fran. He was a slant and dink thrower (which is probably why Harbaugh JUMPED at the chance to our a stronger arm as QB), and will only get a few yards at a time.