The day after the Cowboys' season ended, DeMarcus Lawrence didn't try to retroactively change what the goal was the day before the season started.
"We all came in with high hopes and the will to go to the Super Bowl."
Lawrence alluded to navigating around COVID-19 all season and to the dearth of injuries that the team suffered to key contributors, but ultimately the Cowboys failed at even giving themselves a shot at what they had hoped to accomplish.
The team's 3-1 finish of a disappointing season did come with the silver lining of the continued and steadied development of young players who Dallas was forced to rely on for various reasons for stretches throughout the season. Lawrence claimed he was "inspired" playing alongside those still-learning players as they bounced back from those mistakes.
That being said, Lawrence hinted that the speculation over the players struggling under first year Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's schemes were at least partially founded in reality. He also implied those struggles were the result of so much playing time by inexperienced players.
"We went through some tough battles at the beginning of the season," Lawrence said of the defense's rocky start under Nolan. "Not me personally with Coach, but I'm just saying, in general, as a defense we went through tough battles. When you're playing with young guys on defense you have to take into consideration that some things that are easy for me won't be easy for the next person."
According to Lawrence, Nolan reacted to the struggles by adjusting his schemes until they saw more positive results.
"I respect Mike as a man because he looked himself in the mirror and he changed some things to make us play faster and helped us play better. I mean, it was later in the season, but we started to see improvements, and I think it really shined a light on the type of players we are."
Lawrence stressed that Nolan's system isn't "complicated," and that sometimes players' reactions to what happened on the field need to be better and that they're able to understand their assignments even as the slightly unexpected happens. The former Pro-Bowler didn't throw any players under the bus or even seem frustrated with his teammates but said that the defense as a whole needed to bring "more consistency" into the 2021 season and that every player needed to "understand the culture around you."
If all that simply comes down to growing pains for young players or a lack of urgency from the team in general, Lawrence promised the defense would come ready for higher expectations next season.
"I'll make sure we're ready [for the 2021 season]. That's all there is to it. You can expect us to give our all, make sure we come out there and dominate each and every play and make sure we show you the type of men we have in this locker room."