For the past few seasons the Dallas Cowboys' “narrative” has been the same; elite talent on offense, but questionable personnel on defense. Even during last season, as the offense sputtered without Tony Romo and the defense looked like the stronger unit, the criticisms persisted.
Sometimes we forget that these players are human beings, and that they hear all the talk on sports television and radio about how weak they will be as a unit. The negative commentary has seemingly brought the defense some extra motivation, as was illustrated by cornerback Brandon Carr on Friday.
Does Dallas D have chip on shoulder? "It's bigger than a chip,'' CB Brandon Carr said. "It's a boulder.''
If anyone would be expected to have that “boulder” on his shoulder, it would be Brandon Carr. After signing a five year deal worth $50 million with the Cowboys in 2012, Carr's play has been erratic, as he has failed to live up to that contract. Fans have been loudly calling for Carr's release or demotion for the past couple years, and this offseason Carr re-negotiated his deal, in effect to take a pay cut. I do believe there were some signs of improvement and consistency in Carr's game in 2015, and hopefully he can build on that to be even better this season.
The Cowboys defensive backs are also well aware of their most glaring weakness, the lack of takeaways. Carr also spoke to that on Friday, emphasizing the importance of interceptions for both winning games, and for getting paid next offseason.
Brandon Carr, asked abt DAL CBs in contract yrs: "Get the ball, get this money." Says he's been losing sleep thinking abt getting turnovers.
Morris Claiborne is one of those defensive backs in a contract year. Like Carr, Claiborne joined the Cowboys in 2012 to much fanfare and hype, but so far his play has not merited that level of excitement. Claiborne had his best season in 2015, and is expected by many to take a big step forward towards his perceived potential this season. So far in camp, these expectations seem to be in-line with Claiborne's play.
Dez Bryant on Morris Claiborne: "Mo looking damn good. I love his aggressiveness. … making me have to come with everything I got."
The entire Cowboys' defense has been ridiculed and dismissed all offseason. Whether it be for lack of established talent, such as the defensive linemen, lack of depth, like the linebackers, or underperforming players in the secondary, this defense has been completely overlooked by those on the outside. While this dismissal may be completely justified, it is encouraging to see the defense look so crisp and play with such an edge during all practice periods.
Especially for those two corners added in 2012, who are out to show that they not only belong on this team, but can be just as good as any of us hoped they'd be.