By INIGO 'NAUGHTY' ZENICAZELAYA
IF not for a total mental lapse by wide receiver Terrance Williams in week one, my Dallas Cowboys could have been 2-0 in this young NFL season.
I will gladly take our present 1-1 record all things considered.
Sadly, one of the biggest reasons for Cowboys’ success so far has been lost in the hype surrounding Tony Romo’s injuries, Dak Prescott’s phenomenal play in relief of Romo, Dez Bryant’s resurgence and Ezekiel Elliott getting better and better and more impressive with every carry (despite the two fumbles on Sunday.)
Still can’t figure out what or who I’m referring to Dallas Cowboys fans, and football fans in general? Still nothing?
How ‘bout the Cowboys defence!
A motley crew of no names and alleged draft busts with an affection for the “whacky tobaccy” and libations. Rife with suspensions for substance abuse and injuries, this gang of the walking wounded has bent but not broken, and now seems to be rising to the occasion, thriving off defending their end zone fearlessly in the clutch, creating sacks and turnovers, all while holding the explosive offences of the Giants and Redskins to 20 and 23 points respectively in the first two weeks of the season.
In Sunday’s game, the Cowboys defence stood tall in the third quarter, holding the Redskins to six points in three key trips to the red zone, keeping the game close and winnable for the Cowboys in the long run.
Safety Barry Church’s crucial end zone interception of Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (Kirk didn’t like that, but I sure did) swung the momentum of the game in the Cowboys favour for good, and rattled Cousins the rest of the game into poor clock management decisions and throws, in addition to costly penalties on the offensive line.
If all of this third quarter defensive bravado wasn’t enough, the Cowboys defensive unit proceeded to shut out the Redskins in the fourth quarter. Including twice in the final two minutes and 40 seconds of the game.
Defensive Co-ordinator Rod Marinelli must be commended for making it work with the bare bones minimum.
The bright spot is that this defensive unit has held down the fort for the first two weeks of the season, and the cavalry (suspended starters defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory) are now only two weeks from returning, which will only make the unit stronger and bolster the Cowboys anaemic pass rush.
Until then, the 18th-ranked over all defence in the league (18th vs the pass,12th vs the rush and 17th in points allowed) must continue to be the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL, preforming to a high level despite not being ‘respected’ one iota!
Considering three years ago this was the absolute worst defence in the entire NFL, and the world for that matter, the Cowboy nation need not be critical of the defence and look to blame them for everything, especially the losses.
Instead, the Cowboy nation should pay attention to the defence moving forward, the way we are enthralled with the offence and its success.
If you keep an eye on the defence you might see linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant shut down the run, cornerbacks Brandon Carr, Morris Clayborne and Orlando Scandrick play big against the pass and safeties, Barry Church and Byron Jones, create turnovers and eliminate other teams tight ends from being a factor in the passing game.
No, this is not a legendary defence, nor will it ever be, and it will continue to have its moments. This unit has issues, nobody is denying that.
However, it is also a resilient bunch of nobodies, comfortable in their own skin and confident in their abilities, who expect to be criticised any second.
Instead the Cowboys defence needs to hear the cheers, not the jeers from their fans, in the stands or online.
So this week it’s time to make some noise on both sides of the ball, Cowboy nation. Dak may be the future, but it’s the defence that keeps him on the field and giving the offence the opportunities to be heroes.
So in case you don’t know it, or haven’t had a chance to use it in relation to the Cowboys recently, it goes like this ...
DEFENCE”... and put some respect on it when you say it!
Remember the old saying “defence wins championships”. Whether they are no names or not as a unit doesn’t matter, only that they get the job done when it counts! “How ‘bout them Cowboys.”
• Naughty presents ‘Mischief and Mayhem in da AM’ from 6am to 10am, Monday to Friday and ‘The Press Box’ sports talk show on Sunday from 10am to 1pm, on KISS FM 96.1. Comments and questions to email@example.com