FRISCO, Texas (AP) – Jeff Heath agrees the Dallas protection hasn’t had the impression it did early final season, when that unit usually lined for a sagging offense and stored the Cowboys from falling too far out of the playoff image.
The seventh-year security additionally doesn’t need to overstate how he and his defensive mates have been enjoying a yr in the past.
“The idea that we were this perfect defense last year is just not true,” Heath mentioned. “I think it’s something that you’re always trying to get better. The results of these last three games haven’t been what wanted them to be. But I think we have the right approach.”
After a 3-Zero begin, the Cowboys have misplaced three straight video games however are nonetheless tied atop the NFC East at 3-Three with Philadelphia. The Eagles go to on Sunday night time.
Whereas the primary loss – 12-10 at New Orleans – was the primary time since 2002 that the Cowboys have misplaced with out permitting a defensive landing, Dallas couldn’t get a fast cease within the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys had to make use of their timeouts earlier than getting the ball again with 1:39 remaining. After quarterback Dak Prescott was sacked on the primary play, Dallas finally ran brief on time and needed to throw a desperation go from midfield on the ultimate play.
In a 24-22 loss to the beforehand winless Jets final week, Dallas let New York drive to a subject purpose after getting inside 5 factors within the fourth quarter. The Cowboys answered with a landing to get inside two, however the 2-point dialog try failed with 43 seconds remaining.
“We haven’t been as consistent as we’ve wanted to be on the defensive side of the ball,” coach Jason Garrett mentioned. “And we want to do a better job making some impact plays, taking the ball away. But I think in general we’ve done a good job keeping the scores down, which is the No. 1 thing a defense needs to do.”
The Cowboys are eighth in scoring protection at 19 factors per recreation after ending sixth final season. And Dallas is again within the prime 10 in whole protection after a sluggish begin whereas the offense was producing almost 500 yards and greater than 30 factors per recreation via the primary three.
However Dallas is close to the underside in takeaways (5) and interceptions (two), an space that has stored the unit from being elite below defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. As a lot as he talks about forcing turnovers, the protection is designed to keep away from large performs.
That’s been one other downside for the Cowboys, highlighted by Robby Anderson’s 92-yard landing catch final week. Dallas is within the backside third within the league in permitting performs of at the least 20 yards.
Final season, the Cowboys have been among the many finest within the NFL in limiting large performs.
“There’s been times where I think we’ve played well, at other times that we haven’t,” Heath mentioned. “It’s really hard to pinpoint what the main difference is. It just as a whole we’ve just got to be more disciplined.”
Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, rising younger stars final season with a number of highlight-worthy performs every, haven’t proven up a lot this yr. Neither participant was within the locker room this week when it was open to reporters.
“It’s a matter of time,” passing recreation coordinator and secondary coach Kris Richard mentioned. “We all set a very high standard for ourselves, them in particular. They’re more than capable. We take the responsibility. We go out there and we know we need to perform.”
Dallas nonetheless has a comparatively younger protection. Sean Lee (33 years previous) is the one starter not in his 20s, and 6 of them are 25 or youthful. On the similar time, most of them have been starters for at the least two years.
“There’s no question we have some guys who are young that haven’t played that much football but we have some veteran players too,” Garrett mentioned. “It’s a good mix. We like the mix and we just have to keep banging away.”
NOTES: Offensive tackles Tyron Smith (ankle) and La’el Collins (knee) returned to apply on a restricted foundation Thursday, boosting the prospects for them enjoying in opposition to the Eagles. Receivers Amari Cooper (thigh) and Randall Cobb (again) and cornerbacks Byron Jones and Anthony Brown missed apply once more. Jones and Brown have hamstring accidents.
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