By now I’m sure you all have heard about it. A fight broke out between Dez Bryant and J.J. Wilcox last weekend. To summarize, Dez did not take kindly to a hit from the 2nd year safety during a practice Sunday and went after Wilcox who immediately started launching punches. Training camp fights happen all the time in the NFL and usually mean absolutely nothing other than players are cranky and sick of heat, monotony, and repetition.
Not this time. There’s something more there.
The news of the Sunday afternoon battle between Bryant and Wilcox coupled with the reported mini-camp fights in late June signals something.
Something vital to the team’s success this year.
I believe it signals a switch in attitude and aggressiveness. I think each defensive player has adopted a sizable chip and is in the process of placing said chip onto his shoulder. I also believe the defense has had enough of fans and media pointing towards them when speaking about wins and losses.
Has the defense indeed been the weak link on this team? Well, fans and media can lie but numbers can’t.
Let’s take a look at the all-important total defense ranking and team finishes each year for the Cowboys in the past four seasons since the oh so dreamy 11-5 year of 2009.
- 2010 23rd overall total defense season finish 6-10
- 2011 14th overall total defense season finish 8-8
- 2012 19th overall total defense season finish 8-8
- 2013 32nd overall total defense season finish 8-8
Not a season finish over .500 and not a defensive finish higher than 14th.
Now, let’s look at the same four years of offensive output using the total offense stat just for giggles.
- 2010 7th overall in total offense
- 2011 11th overall in total offense
- 2012 6th overall in total offense
- 2013 16th overall in total offense
Not an offensive finish lower than 16th overall. Not exactly world beaters but the they aren’t holding the Cowboys back. The offense generally does what is needed to win in my assessment. The numbers say that as well.
More often than not, my findings provide a concrete basis for my next statement. The offense has carried the team and the defense has NOT lived up to it’s end of the bargain in recent years.
Enter 2014 and I believe attitudes have changed.
I believe in Rod Marinelli.
I believe that he has and will continue to instill a physical and aggressive approach. His defense will not take any prisoners and will intimidate opposing offenses. While I think Dez Bryant is the best player on the team and one of the best hopes for a successful season, I have ZERO issues with J.J. Wilcox laying the truck stick on him in training camp. I have ZERO issues with Tyrone Crawford and George Selvie taking offense to O-line tactics in June’s mini-camp.
I look forward to more instances of a competitive fire burning within these defensive players. They are all professionals and I’m sure they understand not to hurt anyone BUT you can damn well bet the defenders on this team are sick of the talk about how they are the thing holding the Cowboys back (for reference, do a google search for ‘Cowboys Defense Terrible’).
Don’t you think the players have access to the same stats that I have and view them the same way?
The fights signal one thing to me this year. The defense is ready to GO.
Despite the injuries to Sean Lee, Demarcus Lawrence, Morris Claiborne and others, I feel the defense is ready to turn the corner.
Despite losing leaders like Demarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, I feel the defense is ready to hold up it’s end of the deal.
Despite potentially leaning on players who are coming off serious injury like Henry Melton, Anthony Spencer, and Tyrone Crawford, I feel the defense is ready to make us all eat our words!
I look forward to that meal with a bottle of ketchup and a diet soda because honestly, I’m tired of blaming them.