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Mailbag: Where is the Defensive Pressure?

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What has happened to our defensive pressure? I'm good with just a sack or two if the quarterback is running for his life and getting hit, but it feels like the Cowboys went from 100 mph to 0 in the last three games. Have the number of nicks and bruises leveled out the playing field for some of our competitors? – Joshua Mantooth/San Antonio, TX

Nick: There's no doubt the Cowboys have seen the pass rush decrease over the last few games. Lots of reasons for it, but I think the biggest stems from the cornerback situation. The ball is coming out quicker with teams looking to put immediate pressure on the secondary. Why sit back there and let Parsons and that group get after the quarterback when the ball can get out quickly and receivers can make plays. We're seeing more slants and crossing routes than before. I also think the Cowboys are still having some issues against the run, especially against the Jags. With Hankins out and LVE injured for most of the game, the Cowboys reverted back to their previous issues of allowing 192 rushing yards. That alone will affect the pass rush because the Jags are staying out of a lot of third-and-long situations. So it's a lot of things but it's a problem because the Cowboys defense is getting to do what they do best and that's attack the QB.

Kurt: Being without the likes of Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown, Johnathan Hankins and now Leighton Vander Esch for a few games is tough for any defense to overcome. However, it's more than just that. To me, this group just looks a bit tired. Early in the season on our Hangin' With the Boyspodcast, Nate Newton was warning that all of those lopsided time of possession games in the first two months of the schedule would eventually take their toll. Consider that in their first eight games, the Cowboys trailed in average time of possession, 27:36 to 32:24. As Nate predicted, maybe they're paying the price now. Then on top of that, opposing offenses are just attacking the Cowboys differently. Micah Parsons said after the Jaguars game, "Ball is coming out way faster, there's not a lot of dropback, more play-action. There's a lot more quick-game against us. We've got to expect that and change our game plan." Sounds as if other teams have made adjustments. Perhaps Dan Quinn and the Dallas defense need to make adjustments as well.

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