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Mailbag: Long-Term Outlook On Defense?


I know we looked great in the Eagles game last Sunday, but I can't forget how the Rams gashed us in the run game during the playoffs, and I worry that this defense is susceptible to the run if they aren't playing from a lead. Are you concerned at all about how the defense will hold up if behind, or in a close game? Thanks! - JON BREINER / BASKING RIDGE, NJ

Bryan: I am more worried about this defense than I am the offense. I didn't see a consistent pass rush until last week. I didn't see turnovers until last week either. This defense is capable of playing well like they did against the Saints and Eagles, but there are some better opponents ahead that will cause problems offensively. The Vikings and Patriots show tremendous balance in the way they operate, so that could be an issue. The best hope for this defense is that Dak Prescott and the offense continues to finish drives like they did against the Eagles and keep the defense out of harm's way.

Rob: Assuming the deal for Michael Bennett will officially get done, the defense should be more versatile and more experienced up front. When the Cowboys have problems against the run, I think it's more of a technical issue than a personnel issue. On our Happy Hour podcast, our new TV/podcast teammate Barry Church mentioned angles as a primary the culprit against the Packers. Captain Jaylon Smith also emphasizes angles and overall gap control. To me, that's more correctable than not having the right players.

I am really happy for Brett Maher, that he made all three field goals and all four extra points against the Eagles, and even made NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. That has to boost his confidence. Do you think that will help boost his accuracy, especially from mid-range? - JIM WHATLEY / HENDERSON, TX

Bryan: I agree that it's nice he was able to make those kicks in such important game, but I don't know if it will carry over? He has some games where he's going to have to deal with elements in New York, Foxborough and Chicago. How well he navigates those contests could make or break this season. They're going to need him to not only make those opportunities but kick off well.

Rob: In Nick's article this week, doesn't sound like confidence is an issue for Maher at all. Special teams coordinator Keith O'Quinn says Maher has a unique mindset to forget the next kick. Two of his misses have been long ones, over 50, but no question those mid-range field goals are ones every kicker expects to make with consistency.

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