IRVING, Texas – There isn't a good way to sugarcoat the Cowboys' pass rush through three weeks, and Cowboys' owner/general manager Jerry Jones didn't bother.
The Cowboys boast just three sacks through three weeks, tying them for 31st in the league. Furthermore, only one of those sacks came from a defensive lineman – a joint effort between Henry Melton and Kyle Wilber. It's a stat Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday morning he found concerning.
"Well, you bet it is," he said. "We know that pressure has always represented, in the most complete way, by sacks."
Jones was quick to point out one silver lining, at least – a lack of sacks hasn't necessarily meant a lack of pressure. The team stats from the coaches' film gives the defense credit for 34 quarterback pressures this season. Despite not boasting a sack, Jeremy Mincey and Tyrone Crawford have combined for 16 of those. And, as Jones was quick to point out, it was a pressure from Orando Scandrick that forced Austin Davis into a game-changing mistake last weekend.
"It was actually the Scandrick pressure that made the quarterback throw the ball to Carter on the big interception at the end of the game the other day," Jones said. "That was pressure, but it came from a cornerback. That's what you've got to do when you don't have it from a down lineman or even a linebacker that has got up close to that line."
Asked about the same issue on Tuesday evening, Melton shared a similar sentiment. But he added that, despite a lack of success to this point, he can feel a breakthrough on the horizon.
"We've been getting a lot of pressures. Sacks up front having been coming yet. When they do come, they're going to come in bunches," he said. "We all feel like we're really close. We're just going to keep working at one."
The next challenge won't be an easy one. Few quarterbacks have better pocket awareness, or a faster release, than Drew Brees. The Saints quarterback has been sacked a mere three times so far this season – once against Minnesota and twice against Cleveland. The result is that he's second in the league in completion percentage and No. 8 in quarterback rating.
"Every week I feel like we are getting better, but we didn't get the looks we wanted last week with a lot of short-yardage on third down," Melton said. "I feel like if we work together again, I feel like we have a good shot of getting after Drew." [embedded_ad]
If that doesn't work, Jones said he's hopeful the defensive line could have some reinforcements this weekend. Pro Bowl defensive end Anthony Spencer went through limited practices last week, and Jones said he'll have more work during the preparation for this weekend.
"We didn't plan on him really working in the drills last week – he'll work in the drills this week," Jones said. "If that goes good, then he could have some snaps against the Saints."
Lavar Edwards, who the team traded for during the preseason, also rejoined the roster Tuesday afternoon, giving the Cowboys six defensive ends on the active roster.
The Cowboys are also continuing to up the work load of Terrell McClain, who has three tackles in his limited action this year. McClain hasn't made a quarterback pressure as he continues to work back from a high ankle sprain, but Jones acknowledged the impact a pair of healthy defensive tackles could make in the Cowboys' 4-3 defense.
You can get pressure in the middle if you've got a pair of them in there that can do it, and Melton and McClain, healthy, might be able to give us some of that as we move along," he said. "I think we've got help on the way, and all of this will make us look a little better in the secondary, too, if we can get a little bit of pressure."