FRISCO, Texas – Xavier Woods seems to have a great sense of timing.
It’s a useful trait for his profession of choice, which calls on him to time his reads and his reactions. In a larger sense, it can make a heck of a statement, as well.
Woods was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, coming off a fantastic game against New York that saw him record three tackles, a pass breakup, a forced fumble and an interception.
“Xavier is a smart guy, an instinctive guy, we saw that coming out of school,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “But the more he plays games and sees the different situations he starts to pounce on situations more and more.”
Safety play has been a source of frustration in Dallas for quite some time. For evidence, consider the fact that Woods is the first Cowboys safety to earn this honor since George Teague, all the way back in 1996.
Better yet, think back to just last week. With the hours ticking down to the trade deadline, the Cowboys reportedly tried hard to acquire New York Jets safety Jamal Adams. The deal ultimately fell apart, but it sent a loud message that the Cowboys wanted to upgrade the position.
That’s not necessarily news. The Cowboys also flirted with signing Earl Thomas in the past, and they considered safety Juan Thornhill with the No. 58 overall pick in the draft last spring. Asked about it Monday night, Woods said the Cowboys’ safeties tune that talk out.
“We don’t ever talk about that stuff, we’re in house. That don’t really bother us,” he said. “We come into work and prepare and go to work. That’s what we do, man – day in, day out.”
That might be the case, but again, the timing is fun. The Cowboys’ safeties haven’t played poorly this season, to be fair. But Monday night was easily their best overall effort of the season. Woods’ interception was the spark for the team’s offensive turnaround, and his forced fumble was recovered by Darian Thompson – who else but another safety.
It sure felt like a message sent, even if Woods said that’s the goal every weekend.
“We want to make a statement every week, not just because of that,” he said. “We know what we’re all capable of doing. Tonight was a great night to showcase that.”
That’s got to be music to Garrett’s ears, as the Cowboys head coach has always emphasized the importance of focus. Asked about the speculation surrounding the safety position, Garrett said Tuesday he wasn’t aware of any conversations about potential trades
“I think our guys lock in on what they need to do to be honest with you,” he said. “Xavier has been a real pro since he's been here, again taking advantage of any opportunity he's gotten.”
The opportunities will keep coming. Woods has only been off the field for six of 340 defensive snaps in the last five weeks, a healthy participation of 98%. If he can keep cashing in on them, it’d go a long way toward quieting the talk that has surrounded the position for so long.