Jason Garrett gets picky on stats

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have the 32nd ranked defense in the NFL, giving up 422.5 yards per game. Jason Garrett will mention the Cowboys’ 19 takeaways and how only the Seattle Seahawks (21) and Kansas City Chiefs (20) have more.

The Cowboys have the 32nd ranked pass defense, giving up 315.4 yards per game. Garrett will mention the Cowboys are tied for second in the NFL in turnover differential at plus-9.

“Well, I think before you get caught up in certain statistics you’ve got to evaluate the whole body of work and that’s what we try to do with our team,” Garrett said. “There are a lot of different ways to measure how a defense is doing. One of the ways that we measure it is in relationship to the football.”

The only teams in the top 10 in turnover margin without a winning record so far are the Cowboys (4-4) and Tennessee Titans (3-4).

“We’re not overly concerned about yards,” Garrett said.

Measuring a defense by yardage is a little foolish. Points matter more. The Cowboys are allowing 23.3 points per game, which is 17th in the NFL.

“Typically the teams that are really high in takeaways score the most points on the other side,” Garrett said, and the Cowboys are fourth in points scored per game at 28.8. “That’s been a correlation for a long, long time in this league. It’s a correlation again this year and I think they’ve made a big impact on our football team and helped us win ballgames.”

Monte Kiffin’s defense is designed to not to give up big plays. They want to make offenses drive the field and tighten up inside the red zone. Through eight games the Cowboys have given up 33 pass plays of 20 yards or more. Through eight games last year with Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator, the Cowboys gave up 28 pass plays of 20 yards or more. They have allowed 26 rushes of 10 yards or more in eight games; last year they gave up 20 in eight games.

“We have to do a better job playing pass defense and throughout the ballgame, at critical moments in the ballgame against some of these elite pass offenses. We’ll keep working on that. It is a team thing. It starts upfront. It starts at the linebacker level and certainly on the back end. We as coaches have to continue to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. And slow some of these teams down and make some of those plays that make a difference in the game.”