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Mailbag: Matching level of physical play?


For several seasons now, we've seen teams simply be more physical than the Cowboys (namely the 49ers and most recently the Bills). Is it personnel? Style of play? Lack of effort? How can the Cowboys match that level of aggressiveness? – Victor Alvarez/Houston, TX

Nick Harris:Defensively, there is a size discrepancy that is sacrificed in exchange for speed. When the Cowboys face a team that has daunting size like the 49ers and Bills, it's necessary for them to find speed lanes and speed angles to take down ball-carriers, and not allowing broken tackles is increasingly important. They didn't do either of those things well against the Bills and Niners. Offensively, there is size and strength especially up front, but when an athletic pass rush gets around, it makes things difficult. I don't think there is a lack of effort, I think there's just an uptick needed in physicality.

Patrik: I try to avoid being a prisoner of the moment and I've seen this question posed all week, but I don't entirely agree or disagree. What I mean by that is it's obvious the Cowboys got bullied by the 49ers, but I don't think they got bullied (out-physicaled, if you will) by the Bills. One week prior, this is the same team that literally beat the blood out of the Eagles' nose — one of the most physical fronts in football — and they've had more than their fair share of being the bully themselves in 2023. I think the Bills finessed them to death, though. James Cook didn't look like Marshawn Lynch. He looked like Gale Sayers. The Bills offensive line didn't outmuscle the Cowboys defensive front, they simply gave Cook just enough room to operate until the Cowboys' defense was exhausted and then it didn't matter anymore. But I will say this: you can't miss 12 tackles, and on the road, and expect to not give up 200+ yards rushing. So, for me, it's about execution (something that is lacking too often on the road).

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