Mac Engel

At 2-0, Cowboys linebacker calls out his own defense

At 2-0 and facing the NFL’s second bye-week, commonly called the Miami Dolphins, Jerry Jones could not have paid someone to write a better beginning for his Dallas Cowboys.

You laugh but if there was a way to pay someone to write a script for his team, and it would happen, Jerry would do it.

Alas, despite starting the season with blowout wins over NFC East opponents, it’s not all perfect even if the record says it is.

After defeating the Washington Redskins 31-21 outside of Washington D.C on Sunday, Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith didn’t sound thrilled with his defense.

Smith called out a defense that, to him, is not forcing enough turnovers or sacks.

“If we’re going to be great defense we have to get (those),” he said.

He did not sound angry, or frustrated. He’s simply stating facts. And he’s not wrong.

The Cowboys have two sacks and recovered two fumbles. No interceptions. It did not force a turnover on Sunday.

At least three times on Sunday the defense nearly came up with an interception of a pass thrown by Redskins quarterback Case Keenum, but they could not secure a single one.

At some point, against better teams, they will need to that.

For a team that is 2-0 and won both games by double digits, calling out any group feels wide right. Opposing offenses have converted 4-of-20 third downs.

“We are giving great effort,” Cowboys co-defensive coordinator Kris Richard said. “That is a staple of our defense. That is the single biggest thing we demand each and every day. We have a lot of guys we trust that can work the way that we like.”

And .... it helps the Cowboys have played two garbage offensive teams. They will face a terrible offensive team in Week 3. There is a chance they may face the New Orleans Saints in Week 4 without quarterback Drew Brees; he suffered a hand injury in Week 2 against the L.A. Rams.

Jaylon Smith’s point is valid; quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense have been brilliant in the first two weeks, but at some point the defense will need to make a play or two.

“The finish part needs to be a lot better,” cornerback Byron Jones said. “Don’t let up at all, no matter what the score is. That’s the mental toughness part. You have to understand if you are a point in the game where you can step on someone’s throat. You have to not give that offense hope.”

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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