Sure, it was just the third preseason game for the Dallas Cowboys. But the defense provided a glimpse of what could be a dominant unit in 2019.
Take it for what it’s worth. The Dallas Cowboys throttled the Houston Texans, 34-0, in front of the home crowd on Saturday night. It was a meaningless game, obviously, but it’s hard not to be optimistic about the defense. From the jump, they looked faster and crisper than anything Houston rolled out, and this extended throughout the entire game.
On the stat sheet, there was plenty to be excited about as well: eight sacks, four turnovers, and a blocked punt for a touchdown. But perhaps the most important aspect of the game was how well beleaguered former first-round pick Taco Charlton played. He amassed two sacks and two forced fumbles and was generally a disruptive force of nature.
Charlton entered this year as the proverbial dead man walking. While he’s shown flashes in his tenure with the Cowboys, he hasn’t been able to sustain a level becoming a first-round selection. The dreaded “b” word–bust–and his name are often bandied about in the same sentence. It only appeared to be a matter of time before he was traded or released. So to see him wreaking havoc on an opposing offense, regardless of the circumstance, is a great sign.
The only question about this unit is their ability to sustain it through the course of a sixteen-game NFL grind. The Cowboy defense shone brilliantly at times last year. Ask the Saints. But on other occasions, it left a lot to be desired. It all came to a head at the worst possible time when the Los Angeles Rams ran roughshod in eliminating the Cowboys in last year’s divisional playoff round.
More from Dallas Cowboys
- Dallas Cowboys Linebackers: 2023 Position Overview
- Ballhawk University: Why the Cowboys will be takeaway leaders
- Dallas Cowboys Player to Watch: Sleeper TE John Stephens, Jr.
- Dallas Cowboys: The impact of Micah Parsons and a well-rounded secondary
- Dallas Cowboys still unsure about their left guard position for 2023
Do the Cowboys now have enough to get passed the final eight of the playoffs? That remains to be seen. Simple attrition might take its toll and affect their fortunes. But this is a young defense that boasts more speed than they’ve had in a while. It’s been a long time since they’ve embraced this philosophy, but speed kills. Former head coach Jimmy Johnson knew this. That’s why the early nineties units were so lethal. They could beat other teams to the sideline, and then lay the wood to them when they got there. This year’s iteration has that potential. If they live up to that, then the sky’s the limit.
The other encouraging aspect of Saturday’s game was the turnover margin. It’s no secret that the Cowboys have been historically bad in the takeaway column in recent seasons. So when they have a game in which they’re plus-four in that area–regardless of the time of year–it’s at the very least noteworthy. If this bunch can make a habit of getting the ball back for their offense, they’re going to win a lot of football games.
So even without a certain running back up to this point, these Cowboys appear poised to seriously contend. Their early schedule portends a fast start, so if they play like the team everyone thinks they are, they’ll put themselves in a position to make a run. And if the Cowboys are playing into late January, it really is a hater’s nightmare scenario, and wouldn’t that be fun?
- Published on 08/26/2019 at 11:01 AM
- Last updated at 08/26/2019 at 10:50 AM