The Dallas Cowboys are 8-3, tied for first place in the NFC East and looking to break the tie on Turkey Day vs the Philadelphia Eagles. Its obvious this Cowboys team is different than the past three 8-8 squads but why the sudden spark in almost the exact same team?
Many believe its due to the strong running game which am after drafting linemen in back to back drafts. While I agree with this, I also think there's more to it. Sure the running game is stronger because of the reinforced offensive line but how about the defense? How about the offensive play calling? Make no mistake about it, the recent success is do to the Cowboys having actual coordinators that expect execution out of their players on both ends of the field. Scott Linehan is a true Offensive Coordinator who knows and understands the identity of this team, run early, run often, run late. If the run doesn't work on the first drive, don't panic and throw the running game out the door (looking at you Garrett). Simply keep handing it off to DeMarco Murray and watch the man work.
On the defensive side, the Cowboys lost more than they added. The difference? They're running a pro style defense under Rod Marinelli, not Monte Kiffin's Tampa Two that NFL coaches figured out five years ago. Sure, Rolando McClain has stepped up and assumed the leadership void that was left when Sean Lee got injured, but the main difference is the scheme and the effort that Marinelli demands from those players.
Both sides of the ball will need to be on point Thursday if the Cowboys wish to take control of the division. One thing's for sure, this isn't the same old Dallas Cowboys team, they're for real this season and they aren't going down without a fight.