FRISCO, Texas – There was a theme in Jaylon Smith's words on Thursday, and it was hard to miss.
Coming off a woeful performance last week against Cleveland, Smith was consistent in what he'd like to see from the Dallas defense moving forward – and what he'd like their identity to be.
"We want to sprint to the ball," Smith said. "We want to be physical and make people pay when we hit 'em. We want to be relentless in our effort to the ball and then it's about 11-man defense. It's about everybody doing their job. That's what we want to accomplish."
It's plain to see the Cowboys didn't accomplish that in the 49-38 loss to the Browns. Their atrocious stats have made rounds this week, particularly against Cleveland's vaunted run game. On top of that, analysts across the league landscape have broken down their miscommunications, and at time a perceived lack of hustle.
Smith didn't elaborate on whether he heard the outside criticism, or whether he simply didn't like what he saw in reviewing the Browns game. His response to it, though, was consistent. If they're going to improve, the Cowboys are going to need better effort on a more consistent basis.
"I believe execution on every single play, doing my job on every single play," he said. "I believe getting my guys to sprint to the ball, myself sprinting to the ball, that extra effort, that strain. It has to be done. And it's on us. And we're taking responsibility."
Credit to Smith, as well, for recognizing the obvious. As a key figure on the most popular team in the NFL, he said he's well aware that criticism is going to come in moments like this. The important thing to him is that the Cowboys don't let that infiltrate the building.
"The only thing that matters is us and us being together and us understanding what we need to accomplish. That's what matters," he said. "We're playing for America's Team. So, when you're losing, people are going to talk. That's the reality of it. And if you play for America's Team, you have to understand it."
And in case anyone missed it, there was one more reminder. The Cowboys can't afford to be slow anymore -- whether it's their on-field reactions or their acclimation to a new defense.
"We're four games in now and we're playing a divisional opponent, so we've got to get it right," Smith said. "We understand that the defense, we've got to get it right. And I promise you as a leader on the defense we're going to get it right."
The Cowboys are back at AT&T Stadium next Sunday, October 11th to take on their rivals, the New York Giants. A limited number of tickets are on sale now. Get yours now before they sell out!
Details on all of the health and safety procedures you can expect at AT&T Stadium this season can be viewed at www.DallasCowboys.com/safestadium.