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Mailbag: Can Cowboys match physicalness?


We've seen the Cowboys struggle against really physical teams (49ers, Bills) and now here come the Lions. How can they match that kind of physical intensity, especially in the playoffs? Is it a mindset, a case of want-to? Or is it simply the type of players Dallas has and it's up to Mike McCarthy and his staff to work around any possible limitations when it comes to being physical? – Adrian Reynolds/Charlotte, NC

Nick Eatman:This is a tough question because on one hand, I don't think you can just automatically turn into something that you aren't. No, the Cowboys aren't the most physically dominant team and that's how they've won a lot of games this year. But it doesn't mean they can't play with a physical nature to them. Plus, if a team like the Lions are trying to run you over, it doesn't mean they have to allow it. Sure, the Cowboys will be tested to stop the run against a Lions offensive line that prides itself in power football. But the Cowboys are going to have to sell out in run support, which of course, will leave them vulnerable to some big passing plays. But considering the options, they must figure out how to stop the run and put the ball into Jared Goff's hands.

Patrik: I'd say it's more of a mindset than anything else. Physically, these players are as imposing as anyone else around the league, and I've seen them literally beat the blood out of the nose of the Eagles — one of the most physical defensive and offensive lines in the entire NFL. So, when I see the Cowboys bully a team like that, I'm convinced it's in them. In my opinion, it's a matter of treating everyone like they did the Eagles in Week 14, and the rest will handle itself. I will add that the Cowboys depend on a lot of speed with certain flex positions (e.g., Markquese Bell) that can sometimes be at the expense of size but, to me, "physicality" isn't as much about size as it is about belief, and that means believing you're the bully and not the one that's about to be bullied. They need to put the film against the Eagles on repeat, every week, if you ask me. They were out or blood that day, and got it. And that's how you win in this league — by punching harder than the guy who's punching you.

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