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Kavner: Identity Unclear After Two Contrasting Games

IRVING, Texas – Defining a team's identity after two weeks is challenging.

No one can be sure how impressive a win or a loss is because the true talent of former opponents is not yet known. A poor game could be a fluke. A complete game could be a fluke.

But if there's one team whose identity is really a mystery, it's a Cowboys' squad that left MetLife Stadium with a win and vacated CenturyLink Field with a 20-point loss.  

Of course, head coach Jason Garrett was asked about his team's identity after the debacle in Seattle, and not after an avenging victory in New York. Still, it begs the question what kind of team the Cowboys really are.

"It's an identity that we work on and talk about a lot," Garrett said. "We talk about the importance of team, of playing together, having each others' backs. We talk about the importance of the football, taking care of the football and getting the football. And then we talk about just playing with a relentless, competitive-type nature. We want to be physical. We want to finish."

Well, the Cowboys did most of that in Week 1 and not much of that in Week 2. Playing together with a relentless style can't be quantitatively measured, but taking care of the football and getting the football back can.

Dallas' turnover margin sits at minus two, compared to the Buccaneers' plus three. The Cowboys have lost a fumble and recovered a fumble, but they've thrown two picks and haven't intercepted a pass this season.

They certainly finished Week 1 the way Garrett preaches, completing a slant to Kevin Ogletree to seal the win entering the two-minute warning. They couldn't start or finish in Seattle.

Tight end Jason Witten echoed Garrett's sentiments regarding the team's identity, adding a balanced offensive attack to the mix.

"I think it's physical, it's not turning the ball over, it's running game and passing, and we attack," Witten said. "That's the mentality that we have offensively."

Witten admitted the identity was tainted when the Cowboys tried to crawl back into the Seattle game and got smashed in the mouth. They seemed to be the physically inferior squad and were forced to abandon a balanced offensive attack.

Through two games, quarterback Tony Romo has thrown 69 passes, while the Cowboys have totaled 42 rushes. Their opponents have thrown 52 passes and have rushed 60 times. A large majority in the rushing discrepancy is a result of what happened in Seattle, when Romo tossed 40 passes and the Cowboys rushed just 16 times. Seattle secured a quick lead and only had to throw 20 passes, while rushing 41 times.

"Identity is an ongoing thing," Garrett said. "It's an ongoing thing for players. It's an ongoing thing for a football team. At times, we've done a really good job playing to that identity and other times we haven't, but it's emphasized to our team a lot and we're trying to get better and better in that."

The numbers right now are swayed, having only two performances to judge. This weekend, and really the next couple weeks, will go a long way in determining what exactly the Cowboys' identity is and if Garrett and Witten's interpretations are accurate.

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