Neville Gallimore knows exactly what's wrong with the Cowboys run defense, and other Dallas defenders are joining him in pointing it out as they try to use the Vikings to get on the 'same page'
FRISCO, Texas - As it goes in life, you'll continue to be presented with a lesson until you learn from it, and the Dallas Cowboys are currently trapped in a vortex regarding their inability to stop the opposing team's rushing attack on a weekly basis.
In allowing the Green Bay Packers to get off to a flaming-hot start on the ground with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, they disallowed their pass rush to go after Aaron Rodgers and, three touchdowns to rookie receiver Christian Watson later, the Cowboys eventually found themselves on the losing end of 31-28 overtime final fueled largely by a 207-yard day on the ground for The Cheese.
Up next? Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison and a much more explosive overall offense.
"This week we've gotta be more on top of things," said Johnathan Hankins, who landed in Dallas in Week 8 to help resolve the issues in run defense.
Needless to say, others agree, including veteran safety Jayron Kearse.
"Everybody just has to do their job," he said. "[Don't] try to do too much, just do your job. If every single individual does their job, we'll take care of the run."
It's a recurring theme when trying to get to the heart of why the Cowboys, while owning the best pass rush and one of the better secondaries in the league because of it, are also one of the worst in the league in stopping the run.
From coaches to players to the team's front office, the common agreement is that personnel isn't the problem - execution is.
Or rather lack of it by, ironically, trying too hard.
"We've got a lot of great athletes and ballplayers, and everybody is trying to make 'The Play'," said defensive tackle Neville Gallimore ahead of Wednesday's practice. " … We've got so many dogs on the team, if everybody just focuses on what they have to do [in individual assignments], we'll be good. And we'll get there, for sure.
"Games like [in Green Bay] let you know what you need to work on and where you need to put emphasis but, other than that, I'm confident we still have an opportunity to do what we want to do."
The combo of Cook and Mattison will present similar problems as did Jones and Dillon, and Kearse readily admits it's all about setting the edge early and often, and that's something the Cowboys defense has been lacking thus far. Once that is repaired, the rest will likely fall into place, especially when paired when lack of overpursuits by players trying to hit the home run play in one swing.
"It just goes back to paying attention to the details," Gallimore added. "[I've] never been more confident in this group and what we're capable of but, in situations like that, we just have to make sure we're on the same page at all times - honestly. It just goes back to us, we know who we have in our room [but] it's the little things.
"We don't have to change our style of play. We play hard and we play for each other, it's just the little things that - if we clean those things up - there should be no problem."
On Monday, head coach Mike McCarthy said "pass rush is a privilege", and that's how Gallimore and the Cowboys defense views it as well.
The goal now is to earn it again.
"Coach hit it on the head, you have to take care of first and second down," said Gallimore. "You have to earn that right to get to third down. You have to do whatever you can to get there. We're back to the drawing board, and we're gonna focus on us.
"We're gonna have a solid week of practice and repair the little things. That's the beauty of it: there's not necessarily too much that we have to do. We just need to make sure we have elite-level focus, have everyone bought in and then take care of first and second down so our rushers can just rush because, hey, they know what it is."