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Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: Defense Playing Fast And Looking Good

Latest Cowboys headlines: Rod Marinelli is biggest difference on D versus last year; Cowboys' 'D' playing fast and looking good; An ode to Tom Landry.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

All the News that's fit to link:

Marinelli is biggest difference on D versus last year | Kevin Sherrington, DMN
Sherrington answered reader questions in a recent chat. Here are his thoughts on what's happened on defense.

Biggest difference is Marinelli in charge. Great motivator, great at making play calls. Rolando McClain was a great find, and moving Bruce Carter to strong side not only saved his career but the Cowboys' defense, as well. You can't overlook the fact that, unlike last year, they're not constantly rotating in DL who were just signed off the street. Most of these guys all went through training camp. That makes a big difference.

Marinelli’s intensity is engine driving Cowboys’ defense | Charean Williams, Star-Telegram
Williams writes that "this is not the same defense as a year ago," and credits Rod Marinelli with turning the unit around.

He implemented "travel rules" within the Tampa 2 scheme, with the weakside linebacker lined up behind the 3-technique on every play. He said he has the cornerbacks playing a little more man-to-man than zone.

"We’ve cut things down quite a bit," Marinelli said. "I think it helps, especially when we put our will [weakside linebacker] with the under [defensive tackle]. At least for me, it’s easier. That’s how I’ve always looked at it. And then, we don’t change a lot. Once we get our package right in the off-season, I think you stay with it. So the players aren’t learning something new every week."

"They’re trying to refine their skills. They’re trying to play faster. The more comfortable they get, the faster they’ll play. Then, your hitting starts coming, and your breaks and all those things."

Greg Cosell's Look Ahead: Cowboys' 'D' playing fast and looking good | Shutdown Corner
Greg Cosell lets us in on the secret of why the Cowboys defense has been better than expected this season:

Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s defenses are not complex. You play a ton of zone, mostly "Cover 2" with some "Cover 3" and mix in a little big of man. You’re not a high-percentage blitz team, and almost all come out of the nickel and involve the slot cornerback. And because the defense is not complex, you can play fast. The Cowboys are all about rallying to the ball. Because the concepts are limited, everyone understands them and there’s no confusion. They don’t have to think it through, like other defensive concepts. They can just get to the ball. That’s the same defense Tony Dungy used in Tampa Bay and then Indianapolis. It isn’t complex, but it’s fast.

Twitter mailbag: Why hasn't Toomer played? - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
BTB member YumaCactus asks Todd Archer via Twitter what's going on with Korey Toomer. Archer's reply:

There is always a friction between coaching and scouting when it comes to players. Coaches want to go with the players they know. They can trust them more to do what the scheme says. The scouts want to see the new talent they have added. Toomer can run. I was surprised that he did not play vs. St. Louis and practice-squad call-up Keith Smith did. With Bruce Carter out this week, Toomer will be active. He has played on special teams, but has yet to see a defensive snap. If something happens against the Texans, I think you will see the Cowboys use Toomer. I would bet on it. I can't give you a good feel for his long-term potential, but I know the Cowboys like his athleticism. They need linebackers who can run, and he can run..

Pondering the Dallas Cowboys' 46: Terrell McClain active? - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
With the return of Anthony Spencer, spots on the active roster are at a premium. Archer writes that Terrell McClain is likely to suit up against his former team, which would leave rookie DTs Davon Coleman and Ken Bishop as two fo the seven inactives today.

Dallas Cowboys call up Keith Smith, put Morris Claiborne on IR - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Claiborne had season-ending knee surgery on Tuesday, and was placed on IR yesterday. The Cowboys filled the vacant roster spot by calling up linebacker Keith Smith from the practice squad - for the second time in three weeks.

Cowlishaw: Enjoy Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray's staggering numbers while you still can | Tim Cowlishaw, DMN
Cowlishaw cautions that the odds of DeMarco Murray maintaining his staggering numbers for multiple seasons are very low, so best enjoy it while it lasts.

There have been all kinds of stories and questions this week about whether Murray, who has missed time with injuries each of his first three pro seasons, can maintain this pace. The simple answer is that he can’t and won’t, but I don’t expect the Cowboys to ask him to. That’s not really the concern.

Running backs get hurt in this league. Offensive lines lose cohesion. Teams change quarterbacks, coordinators, head coaches. Houston did all of these things on its way to a 2-14 disaster last season.

The Cowboys’ task is to figure out how to sustain it as long as possible without running him into the ground. A team with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten and other receiving weapons doesn’t seem likely to give up on the pass any time soon, so perhaps Murray has arrived at the perfect place to begin his march toward a place in the record books.

Can DeMarco Murray Keep Carrying Cowboys? -
In the Week 5 viewer's guide, the headline leads with the fact that DeMarco Murray has put the Cowboys on his back this season, and provides this image to illustrate the point:

Things to do until kickoff

Make like Leisure Suit Larry in the land of the lounge lizards and kick off your shoes, put your feet up, lean back and read up on today's Cowboys goodness.

A place to call home: How Rolando McClain is putting troubled past behind him and finding peace with Cowboys | Brandon George, DMN
Brandon George offers a perfectly timed 3,000+ word article on Rolando McClain. Why perfectly timed? Because it's Sunday morning, and this is the perfect time to sit back and leisurely read the whole thing.

The Film Room: The Dallas Cowboys' Offensive Line - Battle Red Blog
Sometimes it can be very instructive to read what fans of other teams think about your own team. And Matt Weston of Battle Red Blog does just that as he delivers a 5,700-word treatise on the Cowboys' offensive line. Thoroughly enjoyable read once you move past the initial (minor) snark. His summary:

Sometimes having one elite facet can be enough for a team to ride into the playoffs, and in a murky, pond water soaking NFC East anything can happen. It's taken five years, three first round draft picks, and a metaphysical experience in the void for the coaching staff to understand how good they are at running the ball, but the Cowboys have finally crafted one of the best run games in the NFL.

Special Edition: An Ode To Tom Landry -
The Cowboys caused quite a commotion in parts of the fanbase last week when the O-line did a "Landry Shift" while in their victory formation. The last time the Cowboys did a Landry Shift was 25 years ago, so many fans, especially the younger ones, had no idea what all the fuss was about. This video takes a look at the nod to Tom Landry during last week's win over New Orleans.

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