FRISCO, Texas – Jason Witten remembers the mouse traps.
Bill Parcells hung them from the ceiling at the old Valley Ranch headquarters back in 2005, a motivational tactic to the 6-3 Cowboys leading up to a potential ‘trap game’ against a struggling Detroit Lions team.
It worked, and Witten never forgot the message. Take it from the 16th-year veteran: If you don’t respect your opponent, “this league will humble you in a hurry,” he said.
Outside observers might consider Sunday’s opponent, the 0-2 Miami Dolphins, a heavy underdog. They’ve been outscored by their first two opponents, the Ravens and Patriots, 102-10, including 43-0 last Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champs. They currently rank last in the league in offense and defense.
But the Cowboys see challenges as they prepare for Sunday.
“Yeah, those two games, the score is what it is,” Witten said. “But when you watch them on tape, that’s not what you see.”
Miami has heavily remade their roster under first-year head coach Brian Flores, who directed the Patriots’ defensive play-calling during last season’s Super Bowl run. In addition to Quinn’s spring departure, they’ve traded three key players since the end of preseason: offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil (Texans), wide receiver Kenny Stills (Texans) and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (Steelers).
But there’s still talent on the field.
“They have a Pro Bowl corner over there,” said wide receiver Amari Cooper, referencing his specific matchup against Xavien Howard.
DeVante Parker is a dynamic downfield receiver for Miami’s offense. And the Dolphins could be giving the Cowboys something new to think about Sunday. According to multiple reports, Josh Rosen will replace Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback.
“It’s the National Football League,” linebacker Jaylon Smith said, “and at any given moment you can get your butt kicked.”
Said guard Zack Martin: “You’re playing an NFL football team. Anything can happen. Just for an example, that game they played against New England, it’s 7-0 at the end of the first (quarter) and obviously things kind of got away from them.
“But we’ve got to prepare the exact same way. We know we’re going to get their best shot, them coming to Dallas, and we’ve got to be prepared for it.”