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Cowboys News & Notes: December Is Here, But Does That Mean Things Will Go Downhill For Dallas?

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We all know how things have gone the past few years. Now we get to see if this really is a different kind of team.

A familiar (more or less) name will be on the other side of the line again.
A familiar (more or less) name will be on the other side of the line again.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Dez Bryant: There’s a different feeling in the Dallas Cowboys locker room | Dallas Morning News

Dez Bryant has emerged as one of the leaders for this team, so his opinion of what has changed from last year is worth hearing.

"Our approach," Bryant said. "Everybody wants to get better. Just by the little things. Not making the cold weather a big issue. Just go out there and understand what's important. That's the opportunity that we have to go out and get into the playoffs."

Jerry Jones: Why this December will be different for the Cowboys | Dallas Morning News

You knew Jerry Jones would express his own opinion on this.

"I think we're not the same team," the Cowboys owner and general manager said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. "We have not prepared this team in the way that we have other seasons. This team is built for the challenge that we got on the road. It's built mainly because we're a physical running team."

Scout's Eye: Pressure Is On Dallas Secondary Against Bears Receivers | Dallas Cowboys

Bryan Broaddus puts what has to change for the Cowboys defense from last week rather bluntly.

The Bears are one of the most offensively talented teams the Cowboys will face all season in regard to the skill players. The Bears are a match up nightmare on so many different levels, and if this defense plays like it did last week against the Eagles with blown assignments, missed tackles and lack of discipline, I promise you will see the same results.

Bob Sturm’s Marinelli Report: Cowboys fans won’t find hope in 2013 Bears game tape | Dallas Morning News

Sturm makes a very similar point, and when he and Broaddus are on the same page, you know you have some good information.

It is one thing to be beaten physically - and there was some of that for sure. But, it is far more disappointing to just have assignment busts that allow for huge plays where nobody on the offense does anything remarkable. They just seize a moment where your guy was not in his spot doing his job. Now, I want to be clear about one point before we look at a few examples: This is what Chip Kelly wants to do. He is trying to confuse you stress your mental capacity to solve problems at the instant of indecision and basically allow you to beat yourself. That is not an accident and the Eagles scheme feasts on your confusion. But, my premise is that of any team should be disciplined and prepared to handle that test, it has to be the Eagles biggest rival who has to play them twice a season.

Are Dallas Cowboys haunted by December woes? - ESPN

It is a convenient meme and one everyone seems to buy into, but it really is almost a superstition. Not everyone is into superstition. Tony Romo isn't.

"Each season is a new football team," said Romo, who has a 13-18 record in December and January. "You're going to write your own story each year with that football team. I've said it a long time: If your team is good enough, you're going to get stops and you're going to be able to move the ball and go score, you're going to be a good team in December. And if it's hard to get stops and it's hard to score, it's probably going to be a tough year."

Connections on roster, coaching staffs run deep for Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears | Dallas Morning News

This was touched on yesterday, but that article missed a couple of names. The connections between the two teams are rather extensive, with the Bears having the larger contingent of "immigrant" personnel.

Five ex-Cowboys players - defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, safety Danny McCray, cornerback Terrance Mitchell, and tight ends Martellus Bennett and Dante Rosario - now call the Windy City home. Joining them on Chicago's sideline are five former Dallas assistants - Joe DeCamillis, Paul Pasqualoni, Reggie Herring, Skip Peete and Dwayne Stukes.

Tues Practice: Only 3 Players Miss Final Practice Before Chicago | Dallas Cowboys

The injury situation has stabilized, and only a trio of backup players are not expected to be able to play in Chicago.

Only three players were absent from the team's final practice before heading to Chicago - the same three that have been expected to miss out all week. Tyler PatmonJeff Heath and Dekoda Watson all sat out while they continue to rehab knee, thumb and hamstring injuries, respectively.

Anthony Spencer's role could increase with Dallas Cowboys - ESPN

Although the rest of the roster is expected to be available, George Selvie is limited to a degree by his thumb injury. It could put Anthony Spencer in for his first start of the year.

Could DT Josh Brent help the Cowboys defend the run? | Dallas Morning News

Josh Brent is looking better in practice and, as mentioned, the team needs to do a better job defending the run, so he may see the field. No official word on him playing yet. Not official, anyhow.

Cowboys DT Josh Brent remembers the last time he played in an NFL game: "It has been exactly two years." | Dallas Morning News

Tuesday was one anniversary for Brent - but a bigger, much more solemn one is days away.

But he does remember the last time he played in an NFL game.

"I'm pretty sure it's almost two years,'' Brent said Tuesday. "Yeah, it has been exactly two years.''

Brent played against Philadelphia on Dec. 2, 2012. Six days later, he was behind the wheel of the crash that took the life of his best friend, Jerry Brown Jr. and landed him in jail.

Cowboys’ Dez Bryant wears shorts, pink cleats to prepare for Bears | Dallas Morning News

Last year, the Cowboys had to play in very cold temperatures, which are always hard for a southern team to adjust to. This year, a cold snap made the temperatures for the past couple of practices for Dallas almost identical to the forecast conditions in Chicago.

Bryant was wearing shorts and no sleeves for the mid-30s practice Tuesday at Valley Ranch.

Bears RB Matt Forte wishes Chicago could be more like the Cowboys | Dallas Morning News

How much have the Cowboys changed their approach offensively? Well, you would never have seen this said about them last year.

Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte sees the commitment to the handoff and can't help but come away impressed.

The only thing that would be better for him would be if he was talking about his own team instead of this week's opponent. The Bears will see a squad committed to the run when they host DeMarco Murray and the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night.

"It's impressive to see," said Forte, who made it clear Monday he wants more carries.

Looking Deeper Into DeMarco’s Numbers " CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

Speaking of the commitment Dallas is showing to the run, here is one stat about DeMarco Murray that was still surprising.

Here's another number that I find fascinating: the Cowboys are more likely and more successful giving the ball to Murray when they are behind than when they're ahead.

ATT Yds YPC TD
When Winning 97 476 5 4
When Trailing 136 720 5 4

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