Dallas Cowboys: Dallas Cowboys

After the Cowboys' 41-28 victory over the Chicago Bears on Thursday night we look at what happened in our weekly Upon Further Review.

1. Coach Jason Garrett talks about having a passionate football team. He doesn't want players sulking on the sideline, in locker rooms or meeting rooms at Valley Ranch. During games, he'll accept yelling and screaming from his players because, well, Garrett saw it for years when he was a backup quarterback with the Dallas Cowboys. Thursday night, the TV images showed wide receiver Dez Bryant yelling and screaming on the sideline after a field goal. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick ran off the field, yanked off his helmet, yelled and screamed after the defense gave up a touchdown. We have also seen tight end Jason Witten and running back DeMarco Murray go off on the sideline as well. The Cowboys view these outbursts as constructive because the players are not disrespecting anyone. If you watch the 31 other teams, you will see players yell and scream as well. Tom Brady does it in New England, Philip Rivers yells at times in San Diego. If it's positive, regardless of how it looks, then don't worry about it. Garrett wants passion and he's getting it from a team on the path to a playoff berth.

2. Murray's season has been MVP-like, but no running back can do it alone. Murray's offensive line, especially the interior, has been productive this season. Of the 179 rushing yards Murray picked up Thursday night, 166 were between the tackles, according to ESPN's Stats & Information. The 166 yards are the third most by a player this season in the NFL and the most by a Cowboys player since Murray did it in 2011, when he picked up 183 between the tackles. The interior of the line has an incredible chemistry from center Travis Frederick making the line calls to guards Zack Martin and Ronald Leary. Martin and Frederick are first-round picks with tremendous expectations. Leary was an undrafted free agent that prompted owner/general manager Jerry Jones to talk about him during a draft day news conference. Murray does such a nice job of reading his running lanes because of the push from the interior. While left tackle Tyron Smith is a Pro Bowler, the interior of the line as a group is having a Pro Bowl season.

3. Cole Beasley is the Cowboys' slot receiver who is such a dynamic force. He was targeted three times in the victory over the Bears and picked up three catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns. The second score came on a ball thrown 19-yards downfield. According to our stats people, it was just Beasley's sixth target on a pass thrown at least 15 yards this season and the first score of his career on a pass that long. Beasley isn't a perfect player -- he's fumbled this season -- but you can't question his toughness and ability to make plays in small spaces to move the offense downfield. Defenses attempt to eliminate Witten and Bryant in the passing game, leaving Beasley open in mostly one-on-one coverages. When quarterback Tony Romo takes his three-step drops, Beasley and Bryant are on his mind quickly. Normally it leads to success.
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr is one of the highest paid players at his position in the NFL. He signed a five-year $50.1 million deal with the Cowboys, the going-rate for that position, in 2012.

Carr has struggled this season. With four games remaining, Carr has no interceptions, just five pass breakups and according to STATS Inc., been burned a team-leading 34 times while allowing four touchdowns.

But Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was either being polite or honest when asked about Carr's play this season.

"He's been solid it seems, like," Marinelli said. "Once and while we have given up a few as all of us. And sometimes it's the rush, sometimes the guys hold the ball too long but overall for all us we just got to get better."

Marinelli isn't one to overly criticize one of the defensive players, likewise for coach Jason Garrett, who says everybody on the team can get better. But the secondary has shown a level on inconsistency in 2014.

Carr becomes the focal point because of his stature financially and he's a starter. Before Carr signed with the Cowboys, he had eight interceptions in four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. He had a career-high 25 pass breakups in 2010. In three seasons with the Cowboys he's got six. Carr isn't noted for his interceptions, but for making plays on the ball.

At the rate he's going, he might not reach double-digits in pass breakups, marking the first time that's happened since his rookie year in 2008.

You just can't blame Carr for all that's gone wrong in the secondary, mistakes by the safeties, a lack of pass rush and just giving credit to the opponent are reasons for some of his struggles.

Still, more is expected of Carr.

"Oh yeah, but the rush helps," Marinelli said. "Rush and cover, it’s all 11, it’s everybody and it’s coaches, too. So it’s all of us. We just got to keep pushing the details like we are and it’ll be fine."

Jeremy Mincey: 'Fans have to raise the bar'

November, 28, 2014
Nov 28
The Cowboys 33-10 loss to the Eagles on Thanksgiving Day at AT&T Stadium was bad in a lot areas.

Cowboys defensive tackle Jeremy Mincey, who has played well this season, wishes the home crowd would make some more noise.

“It’s tough. We need a little bit more support from the fans when the defense is on the field,” Mincey said. “We need them controlling the quarterback. They help the snap count, and they help everything. If our fans could just raise the bar, they want us to raise the bar, they have to raise the bar, too. We’re counting on the fans, just as much as they count on us. We need ya, baby. Come on.”

Earlier in the season, there were large chunks of fans from opposing teams at AT&T Stadium, which raised questions from several players about the commitment level from the paying customer.

Yet, as the season has progressed, Cowboys fans have clearly been the louder voice at home.

“Just make plays,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “Just get the crowd into the game, that’s all that comes down to. Keep them in the stands for the whole 60 [minutes], that means we have to take care of business.”

Mincey, who had three tackles and a fumble recovery, agrees. However, facing an uptempo offense like the Eagles might have been slightly easier with a little noise.

“I really think the noise could have slowed down that uptempo offense,” Mincey said. “But we just have to continue to get better and do our part.”

Cowboys' defense comes up short

November, 27, 2014
Nov 27
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The problems the Cowboys were able to avoid on defense for a majority of the season were finally revealed Thanksgiving Day.

A lack of pass rush.

No playmakers in the secondary.

No elite players overall.

The Cowboys let go of elite defensive end DeMarcus Ware (release) and quality pass-rushing defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (free agency) this offseason.

[+] EnlargeSproles
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesThe Cowboys' defense gave up a season-worst 464 yards to the Eagles on Thanksgiving.
What was left for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was a scrappy group, and for the bulk of the first three months of this season, it played well.

Thursday afternoon, however, the Cowboys' defense was eaten up by quarterback Mark Sanchez and the Philadelphia Eagles' offense in a 33-10 loss.

The Cowboys allowed a season-high 464 yards, gave up four plays of 20 or more yards (two of which went for touchdowns). The Eagles scored on five of their first six possessions.

"They simply just kicked our ass on offense, defense, kicking game," cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. "They controlled the field position. They just came in and did whatever they wanted to with us."

The positives from the Cowboys' defense were few: one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a sack.

LeSean McCoy, the talented and speedy Eagles running back, rushed for 159 yards. On his 38-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, he stiff-armed rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens, and backup safety C.J. Spillman whiffed on the tackle.

The Cowboys had trouble dealing with the speed of the Eagles'offense and handling Sanchez's zone reads. On an early fourth-quarter play, Sanchez faked the handoff, sucking in defensive end Anthony Spencer, who followed the running back up the middle. Sanchez then ran untouched for 13 yards down the sideline for a first down.

It wasn't the first time Sanchez suckered the Cowboys. On his 2-yard TD run, he faked a handoff to McCoy and ran untouched into the end zone as defensive end Jeremy Mincey fell for it.

Those weren't the only miscues by the Cowboys' defense.

With the Eagles facing second-and-20 at their own 21, Sanchez completed a pass to Jeremy Maclin that went for a 58-yard catch and run. Cornerback Brandon Carr let Maclin go, thinking he had deep help from safety Barry Church. The Cowboys were playing Cover 2, which means a safety was supposed to help the corners if a receiver ran deep. When Carr let Maclin past his portion of the zone, Church reacted too late to prevent a big play.

"Bottom line, they did a very good job of executing," Marinelli said. "And we were up and down at times there, but we just got to execute against a team like that, coaches and players."

The Cowboys didn't, and next Thursday they visit the Chicago Bears and strong-armed quarterback Jay Cutler, who has three big targets in the passing game in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett.

Last season, with basically the same defensive personnel -- but including Sean Lee (out for 2014 with a knee injury) and Ware -- the Cowboys gave up 490 yards and lost 45-28 at Chicago.

It won't be easy to erase the poor Thanksgiving Day defensive effort.

"Just not our standard around here," Carr said. "It will be addressed."

With 2014 nearing its end and a playoff berth hanging in the balance, a Cowboys defense that has been hanging around and doing the little things right is on the verge of falling apart.

"I feel like we never got into a good rhythm defensively like we normally [have]," defensive tackle Henry Melton said. "But I looked at the scoreboard and said, 'Wow, they had 30.' That's just not us. We got to figure out what we got to change and get back to work."

DeMarco Murray says he feels great

November, 26, 2014
Nov 26
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was a smash in the first eight games of the 2014 season.

He led the NFL in yards (1,054) and carries (206) and tied for the league lead in touchdowns (seven) the first eight games. Philadelphia's LeSean McCoy (161 carries) and Houston's Arian Foster (766 yards) were the closest to Murray in these categories.

The Cowboys cooled down Murray's carries in the second half of the season. While he still leads the NFL in overall rushing yards, he's fifth in the league with 300 rushing yards the last three weeks and his 62 carries are second to only Chicago's Matt Forte (66) in the same time span.

Does this mean Murray is getting tired?

Does it mean Murray is getting limited carries because the team doesn't want to wear him down?

Murray believes he's getting stronger as the season progresses.

"I feel great," Murray said. "As the year goes on you feel better and I definitely feel like I've gotten stronger throughout the year and I got to continue to work hard during the week and continue to show up on Sundays."

In the last four weeks, Murray has three games where had 19 carries, but he produced four games of 25 or more carries in the seven weeks before that. As the weather gets colder and games become closer, especially with three division games remaining, the Cowboys might rely on Murray more.

The question is can he handle it?
After the Cowboys dramatic 31-28 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night, we review it in our weekly Upon Further Review.

  1. The Cowboys’ defense performed badly in the first half the Giants. It allowed scores on the first three possessions of the game. Things changed in the second half, and that’s probably the difference in the Cowboys’ victory. Yes, the defense, overall, looked sloppy particularly in the secondary giving you concern about the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense on Thanksgiving Day. But the Cowboys defense kept the Giants in check in the final 30 minutes with two three-and-outs to start the third quarter, and the Giants didn’t even score again until 3:00 remained in the game. Of the six second-half possessions, the Giants scored once, turned the ball over, a Barry Church interception at the Cowboys’ 3 and turned the ball over on downs when middle linebacker Rolando McClain stopped Rashad Jennings short of the marker on fourth down to clinch the victory. The pass rush could have been better, secondary too, but when it counted, the defense made the necessary plays to win the game.

 2. Cole Beasley is one of those underutilized players for the Cowboys. Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and Jason Witten get the hype because, well let’s be honest, they’re playmakers for Tony Romo. So is Beasley in a small way. He had just two catches on the night and each was big. His 45-yard catch and run for a score in the third quarter cut the Giants' lead to 21-17. Beasley, a slot receiver who uses his small frame, 5-foot-8 to and speed to slice through defenses, also made a 21-yard catch in the fourth quarter. Beasley’s grab moved the Cowboys from their 43 into Giants territory on the game-clinching drive. Sometimes it’s not about the big plays made in a game, the small ones, such as Beasley’s two catches, that helps teams win games.

 3. When you review the offseason moves by the Cowboys, defensive end Jeremy Mincey and McClain appear to be the smartest decisions made by the front office. McClain had 11 tackles, 10 solo along with two tackles for loss, in the victory. Mincey had four tackles, two solo, one sack and two quarterback hits. McClain continues to be the glue for this defense with his hard hits and smart plays. Tyrone Crawford is probably the best young defensive linemen on the team and Henry Melton had a recent surge of solid play, but Mincey has played consistently well at a high level for the majority of the season.
IRVING, Texas -- Speaking on his weekly radio show, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said the expiring contact of coach Jason Garrett isn't an issue, or to use his words, the status of his coach is a "nonevent for me."

Garrett has gone 8-8 in three consecutive seasons as the head coach, with his overall record at 31-27 in four seasons.

The Cowboys have yet to reach the postseason with Garrett as the coach, but the team is in first place in the NFC East at 7-3 heading into Sunday night's game against the New York Giants.

Garrett's contract ends after the 2014 season and neither his agent, David Dunn nor Jones have given any indications the sides are talking about a new deal.

Jones has said positive things about Garrett since he's been the head coach despite some issues with time management and the changes in the playcaller and defensive coordinator.

"It's a non-event for me to be concerned about it or not," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan Dallas/Fort Worth Friday. "I don't mean to sound that way; it hasn't been a concern of mine and [it's] not. We haven't made it a concern for the club this year. These talks about these contracts, no matter who it is, that's got an ending contract or one that is coming up, that's all for things to talk about that has no impact on my day."
IRVING, Texas -- When Jason Garrett replaced Wade Phillips as head coach in the middle of the 2010 season, the Dallas Cowboys were a mess.

A 45-7 loss at Green Bay the previous week forced owner Jerry Jones to do something he never wanted to do: fire a coach during the season.

So in came Garrett, then the offensive coordinator, who was faced with taking on the New York Giants on the road in his first game.

The interim head coach wanted to change the culture around Valley Ranch, everything from dress codes to the approach. And the result, at least that day in East Rutherford. New Jersey worked.

[+] EnlargeJason Garrett
Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsJason Garrett has changed the culture of the Cowboys since taking over as their coach.
 The Cowboys beat the Giants, 33-20, for Garrett's first victory.

"I remember we had a really good team, and we weren't winning," defensive end Anthony Spencer said of the time. "We needed a win. I loved Wade and the year before we went to the playoffs. But things just didn't work out for us the next year."

Many players didn't really know Garrett.

To deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur, Garrett was simply known for the color of his hair.

"Just knew him as Red and he was the quarterbacks coach, calling plays and then he goes by Coach Garrett," Ladouceur said. "Different freaking business now. I think he was overwhelmed, too I think every coach is thrown into it. It's like any job, you got to be a rookie at some point and you got to learn and learn on the fly, which as a NFL head coach, is even harder because you're scrutinized like crazy. But where we've been and where we're going and the way he's been handling [things] I think he's been doing a good job."

Of course, Garrett became the head coach permanently, and the Cowboys have finished the past three seasons at 8-8, missing a postseason berth with a loss in the regular-season finale.

Sunday night, Garrett takes his Cowboys, tied for first in the NFC East into MetLife Stadium again, to take on the Giants nearly four years since he became the coach.

A victory would give Garrett eight wins for the fourth consecutive season, and it would be the first time he's led a team to it's eight before December in his career. In the past three seasons, the Cowboys didn't earn it's eight victory until mid or late December.

Reaching eight victories now could fuel discussions the Cowboys might finally end their four-year playoff drought.

The players have brought into Garrett's one-game-at-a-time mantra. There are awards for scout team players, sayings posted on the walls of the practice facility about doing your job/not giving up and remaining focus on the task at hand.

Garrett has changed things from the hard nosed old-school approach of Bill Parcells and grandfatherly ways of Phillips, to how the Cowboys' did things in the 90s, when they won three Super Bowls.

Popular players such as outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware were released to make way for younger players.

“Well, we knew we had to make some hard decisions from the outset, and we had to make some decisions to move on from some players who had been cornerstone players for us and then get new players in here and along the way you have to compete. So that’s what we tried to do," Garrett said.

Along the way, they found a dominant running attack, which they have with DeMarco Murray who leads the league in rushing, and a young, hungry offensive line. The Cowboys invested three first round picks on linemen and changed the defense from a 3-4 to the 4-3, led by defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli who demands his players hustle.

It's all changed for the better.

"My honest opinion, I’m just speaking on our personnel relationship, I didn’t too much understand his mindset because he went to Princeton, I’m from this small, country town [Lufkin, Texas], I didn’t understand his whole type of structure," wide receiver Dez Bryant said. "I used to always think, coach, he’s always on me, he’s always on me. I guess as I grew, he didn’t treat me no different as he treated the rest of the players. He seen a lot of potential in me, and I took that as he believed in me, so it was my job to show him what he want me to be or better, and I think he does an outstanding job with us. He don’t BS around with us. He lets us know the truth."

The truth is the Cowboys have a chance to do something for themselves in the next few weeks with a win on Sunday night. But it all started that windy day at MetLife when Garrett took over the Cowboys.
IRVING, Texas -- For three consecutive seasons, the Dallas Cowboys finished 8-8 with a chance to reach the postseason in a win-or-go home game in the regular season finale.

The Cowboys lost those games.

Dez Bryant, a member on all three of those teams feels the team just didn't do enough.

"I'm going to give you my honest opinion. The years that we did go 8-8, I think – me, because this is just how I am -- I don't think we worked hard enough," Bryant said after Cowboys' practice on Thursday. "I'm not saying we didn't work, like, I mean the offseason, during the OTAs -- not the coaches. That's on us. The first thing that I did right after the game, we lost to Philadelphia (2013), my brother will tell you -- I was working out the next day. Just because I felt like 'Damn, we didn't do enough.' Obviously we didn't do enough, they was the better team. It feels different, it's a lot different -- it's a lot different from last year. We're more together, we want it more, we've got the same vision, and that's kind of hard when you've got a team like that."

The 7-3 Cowboys are tied for first place with the Eagles in the NFC East. The teams meet next Thursday on Thanksgiving Day at AT&T Stadium. But first, the Cowboys visit NFC East rival the New York Giants on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.

The Cowboys have won the last three meetings between the teams and enter East Rutherford, New Jersey with a 4-0 record on the road this season.

"It's a big game they are better than what they're record shows and we can't go in under estimating our opponent," Bryant said of the 3-7 Giants. They are a great football team and we got to come out and stick to our plan and execute these plays the best way we possibly can to get that victory."

Bryant credits coach Jason Garrett with the turnaround this season. While it's not guaranteed the Cowboys will make the postseason, Bryant said the team is more focused than ever before.

"It is him, because he let us know how things should be, and we see that and we understand that," Bryant said. "The older guys in this locker room should be accountable, making sure that the younger guys are doing right -- not trying to haze them, but making sure that they're on top of their game and trying to bring out the best in them."

Cowboys prepare for Eli Manning

November, 20, 2014
Nov 20
IRVING, Texas -- Anthony Spencer had to make sure he was hearing it correctly: Eli Manning threw five interceptions last week in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

It was the second time Manning had thrown five interceptions, yet Spencer and several other Dallas Cowboys said the New York Giants quarterback remains a dangerous man.

“He had five interceptions?” said Spencer. “We’re not worried about what they do, we’re just worried about what we do and we have to affect him any way we can.”

In his career, Manning is 10-10 against his NFC East rival and has thrown more touchdowns (41) and interceptions (22) against the Cowboys than any other team.

Manning threw three touchdowns in the first meeting between the teams this season, a 31-21 Cowboys victory at AT&T Stadium.

He didn’t have receiver Victor Cruz in that game because he was nursing an injury and he won’t have him again this week since Cruz is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery.

He does have rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who cornerback Orlando Scandrick said is getting better each week.

With the Giants' season withering away less than two months from the close of the season, the Cowboys expect a proud Manning to rebound from his difficult game the previous week.

“Eli, he won two Super Bowls, the guy can play,” Scandrick said. “Last week was unfortunate, he had a tipped ball, missed a couple of throws, but Eli can play.”

Added Jason Garrett: "Well, he’s just a really good player and has been for a long time. When you play that position in this league, you’re going to have some games where it doesn’t go your way and he’s proven throughout his career that he always comes back.”
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain (knee) was a full participant in Wednesday's practice. McClain injured his knee in the loss to Arizona on No. 2 but made the trip to London for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars the following week.

McClain was active for the game but didn't play. The thinking was if the Cowboys needed McClain in case another linebacker was injured they would then use him.

When that didn't happen, it was deemed a positive because McClain has had two weeks off.

"I don't think you ever get close to 100 percent in a football season," McClain said. "The rest was well needed for everybody, more guys had their legs today in practice."

Defensive tackle Josh Brent (groin), defensive end Jack Crawford (knee), right tackle Doug Free (foot), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (shoulder) and McClain were listed on the practice report as full participants.

Quarterback Tony Romo (back) and cornerback Tyler Patmon (knee/ankle) didn't practice. Romo did work in the walkthrough as his custom on Wednesdays.

DeMarcus Lawrence makes his debut

November, 4, 2014
Nov 4

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys' 2014 second-round pick, made his season debut on Sunday after missing the first eight games while recovering from a foot injury.

Lawrence played 27 snaps and recorded two tackles in the loss to Arizona. There was no pressures given, as he was at Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer's feet as he threw a pass.

"I had a pretty good overall game," Lawrence said. "There are still some things I can clean up overall. I think it was pretty good for the first game. I feel like those should be sacks, no excuses for me missing the opportunities on not getting a sack. I feel overall [that] I can do better."

Lawrence's second game comes on Sunday in London against the Jacksonville Jaguars. So he goes from chasing down Palmer, a 12-year veteran, to rookie Blake Bortles.

The Cowboys drafted Lawrence to become a pass rusher the team needed after the departure of DeMarcus Ware, who was released and then signed with the Denver Broncos. Pass rush has been lacking for the Cowboys this season, but defensive tackle Henry Melton has produced four sacks the past two weeks. After having four over a five week period, the Cowboys have five the past two weeks.

Lawrence hopes to be involved in those sack totals.

"Seem like he did a good job, he was active in the game," coach Jason Garrett said of Lawrence, who might get more playing time this week. "He showed up a little bit, around the football [and it] did not seem too big to him at all. He was physical, obviously, technically he has to improve, and he'll [learn] a lot from the snaps that he played. But there were a lot of positive things with DeMarcus."

Josh Brent will make trip to London

November, 3, 2014
Nov 3
IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys suspended defensive tackle Josh Brent will make the trip to London.

Brent isn't eligible to play in a NFL game until Nov. 23 at the New York Giants. However, he's been practicing for at least a week.

Brent was cleared to make the trip by NFL and law enforcement officials. He's on probation after his conviction of an intoxication manslaughter charge that resulted in the death of his best friend and former Cowboys practice squad player Jerry Brown.

Team officials have praised Brent's work in practice and have said he just needs to get his weight down. Whether he plays in a game this season is uncertain, but the Cowboys think enough of Brent where they signed him to a one-year non-guaranteed contract for 2015.

The entire 53-man roster including practice squad players are headed to London where the Cowboys will play the Jacksonville Jaguars.

DeMarco Murray will see box stacked

November, 3, 2014
Nov 3
The future of Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray will have six- and seven-man fronts.

It comes with the territory when you're the NFL's leading rusher. Murray finished with 79 yards on 19 carries in Sunday's 28-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Murray had to grind for his 4.2 yards per carry and failed to get one yard on a key fourth-down play in the fourth quarter.

Yet, if the Cowboys are going to rely on him in the big picture of things, they must find a way to get running lanes open for him. Sunday against the Cardinals, Murray didn't have quarterback Tony Romo (back) and two starters, left guard Ronald Leary (groin) and tackle Doug Free (foot).

If defenses try to stop Murray, they have to contend with Romo. But Arizona didn't care for his replacement, Brandon Weeden.

"It's probably the first time we [have] seen it and it probably won't be the last," Murray said of seeing seven- and eight-man defensive fronts.

Murray had just nine carries in the first half but the Cowboys went back toward him in the third quarter with eight touches, and with the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter the Cowboys had to throw the ball.

"Receivers get more catches they get into a rhythm and a quarterback throws more he gets into a rhythm and it goes on," Murray said. "As for myself and the offense line, it was hard to run the ball against those guys with 10 guys in the box. We need to make more plays."

It will get harder as the season progresses.

"We play great defense against the run and because we do have corners who can play man-to-man, we can put eight guys up there or seven up there," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "And our defensive line is penetrating, not sitting back and catching."

Cowboys' D needs to make more plays

November, 2, 2014
Nov 2
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Brandon Carr sat at his locker trying to find the words to describe his feelings. The Dallas Cowboys' cornerback was in full uniform as his teammates were pulling theirs off. He was searching for answers.

"Frustrated, but a little adversity is nothing we haven't been through before," Carr said after the Cowboys' 28-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. "We have to pick our heads up. We got a business trip coming up (to London to take on Jacksonville) and it's an opportunity to end this sked."

The Cowboys' defense has struggled during this two-game losing streak. On Sunday, Arizona was a perfect four-for-four in the red zone, and all this from a team that entered Week 9 with the NFL's second-worst red zone percentage at 42.1 percent.

There were other questions about the Cowboys' defense such as its failure to get opposing offenses off the field on third down. Arizona converted 60 percent of its third-down plays, the second-highest against the Cowboys' defense this season.

Quarterback Carson Palmer got passes off with defenders at his feet, inches from the Cowboys pulling him down in the back and basically on his face. Palmer completed 22 of 34 passes for 249 yards with three touchdowns. Yes, he was sacked three times, twice by Henry Melton, who has four the past two weeks, and the defense was credited with nine quarterback hurries.

"We were out there a lot," Melton said. "I don't know the play count, it seemed like a lot. We're not the only defense that plays a lot of snaps in game, but once you're out there you got to get it done."

The Cowboys' defense was on the field for 65 plays, the third most this season. Arizona controlled the clock with an efficient run game, 102 yards, and Palmer's passing to eat up 31:28. That's not even close to Washington's time of possession last week of 38:12.

With the Cowboys using a rotation of linemen, which also included the return of rookie DeMarcus Lawrence, guys should be fresher.

Larry Fitzgerald, one of the great receivers of his generation, had five catches for 70 yards, which included a 31-yard reception off a pick-play against Orlando Scandrick.

Palmer completed passes to eight different players and out of 29 carries, the run game averaged 3.5 yards.

"We ain't do enough to win," Scandrick said. "It's a good football team over there. They do a lot of stuff; a veteran quarterback, a veteran receiver, arguably a Hall of Fame receiver, they made plays."

The Cowboys lost starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain and starting defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford to knee injuries in the fourth quarter, and the injuries raises concerns about their availability for London.

The Cowboys' defense has always been this mysterious deal since the start of the season because the expectations were low. Losing DeMarcus Ware and the lack of confidence in the secondary were the main reasons and nobody knew where the pass rush was coming from.

We've seen improved play from Melton the past two weeks, but we need to see more from other players. Rookie defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence was pretty active in his first game of the season, producing two tackles and almost sacking Palmer.

Yet, the common theme around here was frustration and a lack of progress. It's like the Cowboys have been stagnated after their 6-1 start.

"We're frustrated but we got 24 hours to be frustrated and stop the ceiling from falling," Scandrick said. "We need to go over the London and get a W. We need a win in the worst way."