(Editor's Note: With the Cowboys on the bye week, the team is taking a much-needed break to rest up for the final nine games of the season. But football analyst Bryan Broaddus is taking a look back to the first two months, analyzing some of the key aspects from each phases of the game. Today, we focus on the defense.)
Leading By Example: Byron Jones
Byron Jones doesn't get enough credit that he deserves. He made the Pro Bowl last season, but we still treat him as if he's not on the field it isn't a big deal and that's a shame. Jones is always going to lead by example because he's not going to be a "rah-rah" type of a player. He's going to do his job and do it well. Opponents have stopped attacking him and are looking at other areas to complete passes. What makes Jones special is how competitive he is. He makes it hard on quarterbacks and receivers through his play. He's not going to give an inch and his teammates recognize that with his play.
Better Than Expected: Robert Quinn
What a great job by Alex Loomis and the guys in the pro personnel department to grab Robert Quinn the way they did. I have always believed that some of the best deals on trades were with clubs that had a new front office and coaching staff. The Cowboys took advantage of the Dolphins and obtained Quinn for a song because they didn't see him fitting in their plans. I knew that Quinn was a good player and had something left in the tank. For him to have six sacks in five games is far better than I ever expected that he would be able to come up with.
Still Haven't Seen: Overall Consistency
Coming out of training camp I thought this defense was capable of shutting down opponents with their personnel and scheme, but that just hasn't been the case. It's just been too much of a rollercoaster ride. When one area comes around like run defense, they lack a pass rush or vice versa. For one day they did put it all together against the Eagles. They did an outstanding job getting after Carson Wentz and forcing him into some turnovers that were desperately needed. With the upcoming schedule, they're going to face better quarterbacks and they need more games like the one against the Eagles than the Packers and Jets.
Don't Be Surprised If: Sack Number Improves for DeMarcus Lawrence
I really liked what I saw from DeMarcus Lawrence last week against Lane Johnson. Where I thought that Lawrence improved the most against Johnson was winning off that first step. He did a nice job of getting off the ball and covering a lot of ground in order to get to Johnson's corner. Once he can get in that shoulder, he's one of the best finishers in the league. He also did a nice job of moving Johnson around keeping him guessing with how he was going to attack him. The more Lawrence is able to move a blocker around and work his hands, the better pressure he provides. Lawrence has faced his share of double-team blocks this season, but if you see him starting to win on that first step and breaking blockers down with his hands, you're going to see more sacks.