OXNARD, Calif. — One thing feels certain for the Dallas Cowboys in 2023 and that is, as long as they remain healthy, they'll likely have one of the best defenses in the NFL. DeMarcus Lawrence will contribute heavily to this becoming a reality for a third consecutive season, the team having already established itself as such over the last two seasons.
Lawrence is entering 10th year in the league and is still one of the best at his position — evidenced by the 2022 campaign that earned him his third Pro Bowl nod.
But what exactly can this Cowboys defense be in 2023?
"That's the thing — I don't think we're looking at what we can be," said Lawrence. "We already know what we can be. It's all about finishing the fact."
It's a unit that was able to retain impact players like Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch in free agency before then trading for Stephon Gilmore, former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and adding Mazi Smith to the defensive line with a first-round pick in the draft.
On paper, it's easily one of the best defenses ever fielded by the Cowboys, with playmakers at every single position and at every level.
And as long as they can at least equal their defensive success from the previous two seasons, and have the offense match serve, the Cowboys have a great shot at being the/a team to beat in the NFC.
It sounds like Lawrence and Co. already know they are.
The only thing left now is to prove it, and their first opportunity will arrive on Sept. 10, when the Cowboys visit the rival New York Giants in the regular season opener before heading home to take on a familiar (and dangerous) foe in Aaron Rodgers, who'll be in a Jets uniform this time around — different team but still a force to be reckoned with.
A strong start to the season will go a long way to helping determine how things finish.