It’s been a tough stretch for Ware, who has just two sacks in his last seven games and is in danger of finishing a season with single-digit sacks for the first time since his rookie year, but he believes he’ll get back to his previous form.
“Every week, you’ve got to be your worst critic, and that’s me,” Ware said. “For me, I know I haven’t been playing the way I need to be playing. So you go back to the drawing board and say, ‘Hey, what am I doing wrong or what do I need to change to be more effective?’ It’s just the small things. It goes back down to fundamentals, doing the bags, doing tackling drills, doing those types of things.”
It’s not an issue of health, according to Ware, who dealt with a thigh injury as his sack totals dipped in the middle of the season. He said he came out of the Raiders game healthy and has felt fine physically since.
He also said there are no excuses as long as he’s feeling healthy and himself, which he apparently is.
Ware asked a reporter what his name was, to which the reporter replied, ‘DeMarcus Ware.’
“All right, ain’t nothing changed,” Ware said. “I don’t feel like nothing’s changed. December, it’s always a time where the lights turn on and you’ve got to separate yourself apart from everybody. That’s what we have to do these last three games, and we’re going to do that.”
The Cowboys’ defense needs Ware to become the player he was in training camp and at the beginning of the season if its to turn things around and start reaching the quarterback. Ware said the most significant issue the defense has faced in recent weeks is giving up the big play. He also said defenders haven’t been consistent in their fundamentals, and that includes himself.
He said it’s more on the players than the coaching staff to turn things around.
“The coaching, the scheme is really good,” Ware said. “It always goes back down to fundamentals, doing the right things at the right time. And it’s all about timing. Our defense is all about hustle, hustling to the ball, getting strip sacks, making the big plays. We haven’t been consistent doing that these last games.”
But Ware said he knows for a fact he’ll get back to the level he’s accustomed to playing, and neither Ware nor head coach Jason Garrett believe his switch from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 defensive end has been the reason for his statistical decline. At times, Ware will still play 4-3 end while standing up, as he was accustomed to doing most of his career.
Though Ware said he’s healthy, Garrett referenced the injury Ware’s fought through as a possible reason for limited productivity.
“He has been dealing with the injury for a lot of the year,” Garrett said. “Get him healthy and get him ready to go, and really focus on this challenge right here. Don’t worry about how we got to this point. Just get going. Put your hand on the ground and go affect the ball game.”
Garrett’s still got confidence in his top outside rusher and believes he’ll return to form this week.
“He can do what he needs to do,” Garrett said “There’s no question about that. Again, he’s dealing with an injury and he’s coming off the injury and hopefully he heals up more and more as it goes.”