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Eatman: Cowboys' Identity Has Switched to Defense 


ARLINGTON, Texas – After last week's game, I thought it was more of a trend.

This week, I think it's more of a fact.

The Cowboys are a defensive football team. Defense first. That's their identity now and you know what, that's ok.

There's nothing wrong with this evolution of the Dallas Cowboys that has gone from a ground-and-pound, push-you-around offensive team that just knew how to grind out tough yards when it had to and rack up points to get the win.

That's no longer what this team is, evident once again by an impressive 20-10 win over the New York Giants Sunday night here at AT&T Stadium.

Yeah, the Cowboys' offense was much better this time around, and particularly good early in the game when it was trying to set the tone. That certainly helped, but in no way was this a juggernaut offensive attack. And for that matter, it really doesn't look like it's going to be that way, at least for a while.

Who knows if Travis Frederick can come back and be the All-Pro center he has been? Maybe this offense will continue to gel and make strides each week that can develop into something that will actually put some fear in defensive coordinators.

But that's not what we're seeing right now. And it's not necessarily a must, especially if this defense can play like it did Sunday night against the Giants.

Now that, was something we just haven't seen in a long, long time around here.

Yeah, I know the Giants' offensive line had problems coming in, and more problems afterward. But the Cowboys have seen that before. We've been to games where the opposing O-line was patched together by backups and the waiver wire, but still managed to get it blocked. But that didn't happen in this game.

The sign of a great defense is one that can take advantage of glaring weaknesses and exploit it them. Mission accomplished! Six sacks by six different players might be one of the more impressive stats from this defense since I've been covering the team the last 20 years.

Actually, the Cowboys haven't had six different players record a sack since 1997, so that's at least accurate and not a knee-jerk reaction. But what it says to me is that the Cowboys will fly around the ball with different guys all capable of making big plays.

It's not just DeMarcus Ware beating his guy 3-4 times for sacks and the other guys benefitting. Yeah, maybe DeMarcus Lawrence sets the tone and gets the most attention, but this was more of a product of the Cowboys scheming up the Giants and finding ways to attack Eli Manning. And usually, Manning will get rid of the ball much quicker and not take so many sacks but he had no choice in this one. He was out-manned from the start and only until the end when the Cowboys were taking less risks, was able to get into a rhythm and move the ball around.

Let's also remember how the Cowboys were able to keep two young superstars in check for the most part. Odell Beckham Jr. might be the best receiver in all of football but you can live with four catches for 51 yards, especially if he's targeted nine times.

Saquan Barkley racked up 108 all-purpose yards, but to me, it was hollow. He caught 14 passes for 80 yards – you'll take that all day long as long you tackle him. He only rushed for 28 yards on 11 attempts, so he really didn't hurt this team in space.

I thought the Cowboys' ability to stop both dynamic players the way they did, coupled with the ability to harass Manning in the pocket, is the reason the Cowboys were so dominant on defense.

Not sure, if this going to be one of the NFL's best defenses or not. Right now, the jury is out on that.

But it's definitely not a stretch to say this is the best part of the Cowboys' team right now. And there's really nothing wrong with that.