IRVING, Texas -- Part 2 of the Dallas Cowboys' Twitter mailbag is ready. In it we discuss:
- Not smelling the roses
- DeMarco Murray for MVP
- The defensive turnaround
- The absence of Sean Lee
- DeMarcus Lawrence's impact
Away we go: @toddarcher: I can only go by what I'm told from players and staff I trust and I would say, yes, they are focused on the New York Giants and nothing else. They are human, so I'm sure they feel good about themselves, but they understand how quickly things can change. They don't look at themselves as some sort of juggernaut that can't be stopped. I've asked coaches this a lot: Is it more important for a player to know what they are or what they aren't? Most of them they say the latter, and I think this team knows what it isn't. They know they just can't roll out of bed and beat people. I think that was an issue for the 2008 Cowboys, especially after the '07 team really could roll out of bed and beat people because they were that good. This team has issues and they know it. Now this doesn't guarantee they will beat the Giants. But if they do lose, I don't think it will be because they overlooked New York. If they lose, it'll be because the Giants were the better team Sunday.
@toddarcher: I think DeMarco Murray is already in the conversation and if he isn't, then I don't think people are paying attention to what he's doing. Only one other running back in NFL history has started with six straight 100-yard games and that guy was Jim Brown. Murray has been the Cowboys' most valuable player for sure. Over the last 10 years three running backs have been named the MVP: Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander. Those magical seasons were rewarded, but too often perhaps the quarterbacks dominate the MVP discussion. Peyton Manning is about to become the NFL record holder for touchdown passes in a season. If he continues to lead the Denver Broncos to wins, then he'll get a ton of votes because of who he is and what he's done. That's not a knock on Murray; just a reality. But Murray has to be in the top five for sure, right? Top three?
@toddarcher: Honestly, I think the biggest reason is the offense. Because the offense is on the field so much, the defense is not seeing many plays. The Cowboys are giving up 6.1 yards per play, which is the same as last year's historically bad defense. They are doing a better job of keeping teams out of the end zone, and they are making plays when it matters most. There will come a time when the offense is not as efficient and the defense will be on the field a ton. I don't know if they can be as good as they have been if they have to play 65 plays. That's what is holding me back from really believing this team is one of the true contenders. Maybe I'll be proven wrong. As I say that, I don't want to take credit away from what they have done, especially Rod Marinelli. His scheme is not complex, but how he teaches it makes the players understand that simpler is better. They don't have to think. They can just play. They know they need each other to be successful. So far, the formula has worked really well.
@toddarcher: It's an interesting theory, but I think everybody on the team would want Sean Lee on the field. He was/is their best player. Would they still have Rolando McClain? Probably not. I do think the players realized Lee wasn't there to bail them out in terms of getting them in the right checks and looks. Brandon Carr has talked about the players being more accountable to each other in that aspect. It's a little bit like how I think the coaches view Jason Witten. To me they oftentimes act like, 'Ah, don't worry, Witten will be there to clean it up,' or, 'Sure, Witten can block J.J. Watt by himself.' I think the defense might have been too reliant on Lee and DeMarcus Ware to not only get them in the right spots but to make plays.
#Cowboysmail do you all think the sean Lee injury may have worked out for the better in forcing other guys to step up on defense?— Charron Elliott (@CElliott_Sports) October 16, 2014
@toddarcher: He returned to practice this week and looked really good from what a few people told me. If he didn't get hurt in training camp I truly believe he was on his way to being the starting right defensive end. He was playing well. While rehabbing his broken foot, Stephen Jones said the athletic training staff told him Lawrence was able to change his body and get stronger. We'll see how this goes when he gets back Nov. 2 against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cowboys believe he will have an impact, almost like trading for a player. He will have fresh legs. He showed a knack for getting to the quarterback over the summer. He is more of a power player than a speed player, but having a shortened role as a designated pass rusher might help him just focus on getting to the quarterback.