Posted: 11:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
After the heartbreak of the shootout with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, I for one, had some serious questions about how the Dallas Cowboys would respond against the Redskins. In all honesty, nothing from the team coming out flat to an explosive performance would have surprised me this week. Such is life when you follow "America's Team" these days. In the end though, there are three things that I will take away from the week six match up that I feel bode well for the 2013 edition of the Dallas Cowboys.
For starters, in spite of the initial scare that we all went through during the preseason, the Dallas special teams unit is showing that it does indeed have the potential to be something special. Coach Rich Bisaccia has his guys playing with some fire inside. I don't just mean Dwayne Harris, who turned in an effort this week that should earn him NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second time this season. The whole unit is playing with desire. It is nice to see guys like Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick bringing the same intensity to the punt return unit that they show when manning the secondary for the Cowboys. Even newcomer Cameron Lawrence got in on the act with a key block on special teams. It took a total team effort for the special teamers to out-produce the Cowboys offense for the evening.
The "Next Man Up" philosophy is alive and well in Dallas. We all know that the defensive line is as thin as tissue paper but the guys who man that unit seem to have missed that memo. That the Cowboys were able to keep pressure on Bobby Trey all night long despite the early loss of DeMarcus Ware speaks volumes about the mental approach of the down roster guys. So does the fact that on a night where Miles Austin was held for naught and Dez Bryant only accounted for 36 yards on five catches, a down roster guy like Cole Beasley steps up and makes some critical catches for the team. Don't forget Kyle Wilber and his play in taking the ball away from RGIII. To steal a phrase from Rob Ryan, that was one I would term as a "takeover." Every man on the Dallas sideline realizes that when he is given a chance to take the field, it is his duty to go out there and deliver.
Finally, although they are still far from being out of the woods, the defense is pointing itself in the right direction. In the secondary Brandon Carr delivered perhaps his best performance as a Cowboy and the other corners delivered as well. On the night they accounted for eight pass break ups and 13 tackles. Orlando Scandrick added his first interception of the year. The linebackers also looked better this week, especially the beleaguered Bruce Carter. There is still a lot of room for the defense to improve but the outing against Washington was a clear step in the right direction for the team.
At the end of the day, a win is a win, and you will take them any way you can but on Sunday night I saw more than just a win. Coach Bisaccia's special teams are playing on the razor's edge, once again guys are elevating their game at critical moments and the defense is starting to show a few signs of life. All three will have to factor into the equation if the Dallas Cowboys are going to make something out of themselves during the 2013 football season. The victory over the Redskins had many positives but these three points give me hope that there will be more to come over the next several weeks.