FRISCO, Texas — There is no time for the Dallas Cowboys to spend dwelling on what might've been in Week 6 against the Philadelphia Eagles, losing 26-17 in enemy territory and falling to a still promising 4-2 on the season. They'll likely now see the return of Dak Prescott to the fold offensively, but the heralded defense is focused on improving upon the errors they made Sunday.
It was pointed out by a "pissed off" Dan Quinn that the unit missed 10 tackles against the Eagles, and that needs to be cleaned up quickly to avoid being upset by the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium in Week 7.
"Really just taking it a week at a time and improving and making sure that we cleaned things up from every game," said Leighton Vander Esch on Wednesday. "I don't think that was even close to our best performance. And obviously, we got some things that we had to clean up. But it comes down to focusing on us and not worrying about really what other teams are doing - just doing our jobs."
That job will include attempting to halt yet another potentially destructive rushing attack, with the Lions boasting a talented tandem of Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift - the latter likely to return from injury (shoulder and ankle) - against the Cowboys.
Williams is more of a downhill threat while Swift, when healthy, can be problematic as a receiver out of the backfield and, to that point, is averaging 9.6 yards per reception in his three starts this season. Bottling up that duo will go a long way to forcing the game on Jared Goff and into the Cowboys dynamic pass rush.
"We've always taken an extreme amount of pride on the defensive side of the ball," said Vander Esch. "But I feel like we've taken it upon ourselves like, 'Yo, we got the crew this year to take it all the way.' So, we gotta stick together. Not let one loss or some mistakes divide us and really just keep the brotherhood that we have going, and know that we're going to keep building off that week by week and just taking one game at a time."
Anthony Barr, a former longtime linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings, is no stranger to combating the Lions as his rival in the NFC North. Having seemingly now found his stride with the Cowboys, he'll be key (both physically and mentally) in the fight to come against his once-familiar foe.
"[We] just have to grind it out," said Barr. "They're a hard-nosed football team. They run the football really well … It's given them a great opportunity to drop back for play-action passes.
"It'll be a great challenge for us on all three levels."
And the Lions have a head start on preparation for this matchup as they exit their bye week.
"They'll have some new things, for sure, some unscouted looks," Barr added.
Overall, it'll be about self-discipline by each player on Quinn's unit if they're to help Prescott and the offense try to iron out early hiccups with added possessions and possibly putting points on the board as well, and Vander Esch isn't naive to that reality.
But, by all accounts, the best is still to come from what has already proven to be one of the elite defenses in the NFL.
"I think we're developing, obviously," Vander Esch said. "I mean, I think we've taken strides here and there but like I said, I mean, we still got things to clean up. And I think that's obvious after the last game, too. So, everybody's just got to do the job and not try to do everybody else's or somebody else's job.
"Just home in on your specific job and take pride in that, and doing that to the best of your ability, and we'll be fine."