FRISCO, Texas – Here's hoping DeMarcus Lawrence can continue to speak things into existence for the Dallas defense.
In the midst of a trying season, the Cowboys' star pass rusher hasn't been shy about voicing his opinions. That continued on Wednesday, as he stressed that the Cowboys' problems aren't as bad as the record might indicate.
"First things first, don't ever get this twisted, we're good team," Lawrence said. "It's all about winning games at the end of the day, but we're a good team. Seeing how other people are playing and stuff, I don't think we're far behind at all."
Perhaps it's not specifically due to Lawrence, but the Cowboys have certainly looked much better since the last time Lawrence spoke up. Following an embarrassing loss to Washington, he noted that the Cowboys need to play with more belief and a stronger backbone.
And while it's fair to point out that the Cowboys haven't won a game since then, they have put forward a much better effort. Their close-call losses to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were a far cry from what happened against opponents like Cleveland, Arizona and Washington.
"I think we improved just the mindset about attacking and not letting people attack us," Lawrence said.
With Minnesota waiting on Sunday, it's an interesting week to bring up Cleveland, though. Behind the Herculean efforts of Dalvin Cook, the Vikings currently rank fifth in rushing offense – just one spot behind the No. 4 Browns.
That's noteworthy because the Browns are coached by Kevin Stefanski, who was Minnesota's offensive coordinator last season – and who used similar schemes to bludgeon the Cowboys for 307 rushing yards back on Oct. 4.
It's not just outsiders drawing those comparisons, either. Asked about it, Lawrence acknowledged the similarities – albeit the Vikings have arguably the best back in football toting the rock,
"We feel like it's pretty similar," Lawrence said. "We feel like Dalvin Cook is a more elite back just by his skills and how he can cut the ball back at any moment on you, but we feel like we're going to see mostly the same scheme and that's it."
This is the part where, hopefully, Lawrence can continue to set the tone for his unit. It's entirely understandable to be dubious of the Cowboys' ability to slow Cook down. In addition to Cleveland's big day, this is the same group that surrendered 208 rushing yards to Washington, as well as 261 to Arizona.
At the same time, the run defense looked better last time out against Pittsburgh – unrecognizably better, in fact. The Steelers managed just 46 yards on 18 attempts, before abandoning the run game altogether.
It's a tall order, but the Cowboys will look to build on that performance, especially if Lawrence has anything to say about it.
"I feel like we're a different team, we're playing totally different, energy is totally different and this will not be a repeat of the Browns game," he said. "I feel like our feet are underneath us, we're starting to play with more a football IQ and understand more of what our coaches want from us and we're going out there and playing hard."