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Defense needs to step it up

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Mickey Spags from the Cowboys website tells us that the Cowboys defense needs to play much better than it did against Jacksonville if the Cowboys are going to reach any of their offseason goals, like making the playoffs. I for one could not agree more with Mick on this issue. I never thought the Jags would score more than 13 or 14 points and Mickey agrees.

 But the Cowboys gave up 24 points - 24 points to an offense which had scored no points with its first-teamers vs. the opposition's first-team defenders in four preseason games. To an offense loaded with receivers of little acclaim and missing its first-round tight end. To an offense I'm guessing you would have been hard-pressed to name one of its starting offensive linemen before the game. To an offense which last year scored more than 24 points only seven times in 17 games, and in one of those games needed overtime.

That's wrong.

If I were the worrying sort, that's what would worry me after this first game and heading toward the next 15. That's where I would focus my apprehension.

In training camp and throughout the season, the defense looked like they would be a dominating force, but against the Jags, they looked really average at times and the offense isn't good enough to where this defense can be average at times. The defense has to be very good for the Cowboys to have a successful season. Mickey agrees.

 That is why last Friday when asked to provide three keys to the game, one of mine was "Bigger D." Hey, Big D, as in defense is one thing, but the Cowboys' defense this year just has to be better than that. It has to be catalytic, Bill's word, not mine.

Well, against Jacksonville, it was for a quarter. The Cowboys yielded 16 yards on 15 first-quarter plays. And I might even cut the defense some slack, because at halftime, while Jacksonville did score 10 points, the Jags only had 132 yards and Roy Williams had gobbled up an interception.

But that was it. The Cowboys couldn't slam the door on the Jacksonville offense the second half, even if the Jags were set up at the Dallas 40 for what turned out to be the critical third touchdown. But three passes later, the Jaguars gobbled up 33 yards and a touchdown.

That just can't happen. Not if these Dallas Cowboys are to be what we think they can be this season. The defense has to be not only this team's stopper, but also the closer.

Its all about the defense this year, thats where we need greatness. Bledsoe and the offense are going to be inconsistent this year, even with T.O., but the defense, well they can't afford to be inconsistent, they need to shut down teams during the periods of the game when the Cowboys offense will struggle. If they don't play up to expectations, it will be a very, very long season.