The Dallas Cowboys' defense has been shockingly good this season. At 5-1, Dallas ranks 9th in the NFL in points allowed per game at 21. So the question is, how does statistcally the worst defense in history rebound after 2013 and find success early in the 2014 season while losing key players and not making any real additions? It comes down to three simple reasons why, pride, the running game, and Rolando McClain.
While this defense may not consist any super star athletes, at the end of the day they're still professional football players. Contrary to popular belief, there's no doubt in my mind these guys have been hearing every talk show host, radio guy, and national media outlet talk about how terrible they'll be in 2014 and it, for lack of a better term, pissed them off. This defensive production is a product of "poking the dog with a stick." You can poke and poke even the most docile of dogs, but eventually you're going to get bit. Playing with pride has been a huge part of the early success and has paid huge dividends.
The Running Game
The Cowboys have the second highest time of possession so far this season with 34 minutes per game (57.78%). This is credited to the success of the run game. Its very simple, the best defense is a good offense. Keeping the offense on the field not only limits the number of scoring opportunities the opposition has, but gives the defense adequate time to rest, keeping them fresh throughout the game. Just another reason why beefing up the offensive line by drafting Travis Frederick and Zack Martin was the right move in the draft.
McClain was one of the most sought after rookies in the 2010 NFL Draft going 8th overall to the Oakland Raiders. Its no secret the guy can play, his problem has been in between the ears, though. After being released by the Raiders in 2013, he was signed by the Baltimore Ravens in April 2013 before announcing his retirement in May. The Cowboys acquired McClain from the Ravens for a 6th round pick. I truly believe that if McClain can keep his head right, Jerry Jones and crew made one of the best free agent signings of the off season with Rolando McClain.
The Cowboys look the best I've seen in recent years. If the defense keeps playing with pride, the running game keeps it up, and Rolando McClain can keep his head screwed on straight, there's no doubt the success will continue throughout the season and into the playoffs.