Recently, on these pages, my BTB colleague Tom Ryle penned a compelling argument that the issue on the defensive side of the ball is a unit that is bereft of talent. Tom did not mince any words when he clearly stated his belief that Dallas does not have the players to get the job done.
I don't think anyone could do a very good job with the motley crew of players Dallas is trying to field. The talent, folks, is just not there.
Tom is correct, after all Dallas has now used a total of 39 players on the defensive side of the ball; when you are forced to rely on players off of the NFL scrap pile, the talent level is not going to be where it needs to be. My question is: "Is talent the only issue?"
Recently, Dallas safety Barry Church gave us his take on the situation. He feels that the team is not putting in the effort into preparing for their upcoming opponents.
"I think as a whole unit, we need to study more on our opponents. Not even just the concepts, but just read what our one-on-ones are, what the receivers like to do, what the quarterbacks like to do, who he likes to throw it to on third down. We've just got to win situational football, and hopefully we can do it this week." -Barry Church
That is a good point. Most of us remember a guy who spent a few years on the Dallas roster in spite of the fact that he did not have the talent of many of the other players. His name was Bill Bates. As Tom Landry once stated of Bates, "If we had 11 players on the field who played as hard as Bill Bates does and did their homework like he does, we’d be almost impossible to beat." Known for the hours of study that he put into every game, Bill Bates managed to play for 15 seasons because he put in the work that was needed to get around his lack of talent, and it seems that Barry Church expects that type of commitment from this edition of the Dallas Cowboys.
"It's tough; we've given up a lot of yards, not only against the run but also against the pass. The whole defense, we've just got to look at ourselves in the mirror and say, We've got to get the job done.''
There are many factors outside of the players control. The one thing that they can really impact, the effort that they put forth, is where Church feels that he and his teammates can make the difference. They must be ready for the tenancies that opponents are going to throw at them in various situations. The only way for them to learn what to expect is to spend more time in the film room.