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Cowboys news: Dallas defense is looking for improvement

Plus a well-deserved dose of Dak praise.

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NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys
He thinks he knows a few ways to get better.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get to the links themselves, let’s throw this out because it seems encouraging.

Now on to our regularly scheduled news roundup.

Cowboys' Everson Griffen admits pass rush is struggling, will make specific adjustment to 'generate pressure' - Patrick Walker,
Everson Griffen doesn't think it's just his stance that needs to be addressed, either.

"First and foremost, I feel like us as a group we have to get lined up correctly," Griffen told media in a Zoom call on Wednesday. "We have to get lined up correctly. We have to play our gaps correctly and we have to not beat ourselves. We cannot beat ourselves.

"We have to get lined up correct, make the tackles and make the calls. We've got to get the ball back for offense. Our goal for this week is keep Russell in the pocket, don't let him scramble and we have to do that by getting back there -- generating pressure. These past two games, we haven't been generating pressure that well to be honest with you guys and I feel like we've got to do a better job at generating pressure.

"If that's putting big guys in the middle to get more push in the pocket, if that's switching it up, doing whatever we have to do to generate that push in the middle, whatever we have to do."

Defense Eyes Adjustments After First Two Games - Rob Phillips,
The entire defense acknowledges the struggles. They are actively looking to get better.

Thursday, head coach Mike McCarthy said it's possible the defense will scale back the volume within the scheme to help reduce missed assignments. After all, it's only been five weeks of actual on-field work since camp began.

(Linebacker Jaylon) Smith agreed that approach could help.

"It's about us growing each and every week," he said. "The coaches are on the same page, and the players are on the same page, and we're just trying to do whatever it takes to get that much better each and every week.

How McCarthy’s belief in ‘players over system’ should help Griffen, Lawrence – Jon Machota, The Athletic
It's probably a good idea that Griffen and DeMarcus Lawrence may be back to putting a hand on the ground, which should make them more productive. It's even better to see head coach Mike McCarthy means what he says.

“When you’re throwing away good players because they don’t fit your system, you got to take a hard look at your system,” McCarthy said in February. “If the guy is a good football player, he can play for me.”

It appears McCarthy is sticking to his word. One of the reasons for the slow start up front defensively is that Lawrence and Griffen are playing a different style than they have in the past. Nolan has implemented more 3-4 looks up front, meaning that instead of rushing from a three-point stance with a hand on the ground, the edge rushers come off the ball from a standing position. While that’s a perfect fit for Smith, Lawrence and Griffen have become Pro Bowl players because of what they have accomplished as 4-3 defensive ends.

And it sounds like they are going to get an opportunity to get back to what works best for them.

Trysten Hill Making an Impact in his Second Year - John Williams, Inside the Star
There are a lot of people that owe Trysten Hill an apology.

After Gerald McCoy was lost for the season with an injury, Hill was immediately thrust into first-team reps on defense. He didn’t disappoint, earning the starting three-technique defensive tackle job out of training camp. So far, in the early going of 2020, he’s flashed multiple times in both weeks one and two and is showing the skill and promise that made him a second-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Writer’s Blocks: Dak’s Big Opportunity - David Helman,
Dak Prescott gets some love.

Prescott is off to a wonderful start in 2020. He's sitting on 716 yards through two games, which means he has a real shot to hit 1,000 yards after just three weeks. He hasn't thrown an interception in six games. He made a statement leading the Cowboys back from certain defeat just a week ago.

That's all well and good, but now he's got a chance to put the league on notice. It's easy to argue that Russell Wilson is playing better than anyone in the NFL right now, and he's a huge part of the reason why the Seahawks are one of the most impressive 2-0 teams in the league. The guy has thrown nine touchdowns compared to just 11 incompletions through two weeks. He's just absurd.

Those of us that follow the Cowboys' every move know how good Prescott can be. But I don't think the rest of the world has woken up to the possibility that he is on that level.

I'm not saying it'll happen, but that would certainly change if he outduels Wilson on Sunday. If Prescott can build on his Week 2 performance in a win this weekend, he's going to rocket to the top of the league consciousness.

Ted’s Film Room: These three quarterback/play-caller duos need more respect – Ted Nguyen, The Athletic
More on Dak.

Dak Prescott has been a very good quarterback since he took over as the Cowboys starter in his rookie year in 2016. He’s had his ups and downs, so it’s understandable that there has been hesitancy to call him elite. In his early years, the offense was focused around running back Ezekiel Elliott and the team’s incredible offensive line. However, last season, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore took over and made Prescott the driving force of the offense. Prescott responded with his first 30-touchdown season. Still, that wasn’t enough for the Cowboys to sign Prescott to a big extension, so he is playing on the franchise tag. This season, he’s trying to prove that he deserves to get paid like an elite quarterback.

After a shaky start against the Rams — with one of the top defenses in the NFL — Prescott ripped the Falcons secondary to shreds without his starting left and right tackles. Against the Falcons, he aided his protection with disciplined pocket depth. Some young quarterbacks will start drifting too deep when they feel the heat, making it difficult for their tackles to block because it gives edge rushers an easier angle to attack the pocket. Prescott was very disciplined by dropping to the proper depth and stepping up into the pocket despite a lot of pressure early in the game.

With Seahawks up next, Cowboys need to find winning ways on the road - Todd Archer, Dallas Cowboys Blog- ESPN
The famed 12th man is not going to be there when the Cowboys play the Seahawks on Sunday. Will that be a plus for Dallas?

Including the season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys have lost four straight road games, failed to score a touchdown in two of the games and have crossed the end zone five times in their past 45 possessions. Three of those touchdowns came in the fourth quarter of a 31-24 loss to the Chicago Bears that was not as close as the final score indicated.

"It's just very quiet," Moore said. "You've got to bring your own juice, energy, excitement while still playing simple execution football. We learned from the experience of going to L.A. and that unique environment. Obviously, at home it was awesome to have a little bit of natural enthusiasm of the crowd and with the energy that's in the stadium. We were able to benefit, hopefully, from that. Obviously, we're back to probably no crowd [in Seattle] and I think we'll be prepared for it."

Cowboys McCarthy Explains Why ‘I Don’t Believe In Gambling’ - Mike Fisher, SI Cowboys Maven
The Cowboys went for it on fourth down with a couple of failed fake punts against the Falcons, and some think those were foolish gambles. But Mike McCarthy doesn't see it that way.

"The Gambler''? No.

McCarthy made it abundantly clear: You do things with a preparation base behind it. ... It's about keeping the ball in the players' hands, and about them having the tools and the confidence ... Everything you do is done with good intent, with preparation.

"I'm not a 'gambler.' But I definitely would like to think of it as ‘aggressive.''

Amari Disappointed With His One-Handed Catch - Jonny Auping,
It was one of the most spectacular plays in a most amazing game. But it still wasn't good enough for Amari Cooper - and you have to love that.

"I wish I would have been able to run full speed," a frustrated Cooper said on Thursday. "I couldn't do what I wanted to do. Obviously it would have been a touchdown."

Cooper said that a lingering foot injury decreased his speed and was the explanation for what seemed like an overthrow. "It's a lot better [now]," Cooper updated the media on Thursday. "I've been running full speed."

Cooper has proven that he's thrived to get better since he arrived in Dallas via trade from the Raiders, and his progress and chemistry with Dak Prescott has surely helped the quarterback's young career as well. Cooper's ability to make a catch like the one he made against Atlanta wasn't luck and athleticism. It was the result of conscious and deliberate practice.

"I practice one-handed catches [as if] I can only catch them with one hand," Cooper explained. "Usually it sticks. But it didn't stick. So I had to bobble it and catch it."

Dallas Cowboys: How Ezekiel Elliott decided to get ‘Feed Me’ tattoo- Jori Epstein, USA Today

Why is a tattoo such a news item? (Typed unironically while adding story about the tattoo to the news links article.)

“That’s definitely Zeke’s personality and he does bring a lot of energy to the team because he has a mentality that he wants to be fed,” wide receiver Amari Cooper said. “Obviously, the world knows he wants to be fed and he wants to help the team in any way he can.”

Cooper laughs recalling the July workout when Elliott showed up to Prescott’s home less than 24 hours after Guzman completed the “Feed Me” tattoo. Elliott’s abdomen was still freshly swollen.

“You know,” Cooper said, “I like it.”

Dallas Cowboys' Dak Prescott, Atlanta Falcons' Hayden Hurst to team up for suicide prevention - Todd Archer, ESPN
Some things are far bigger than football. This is great to see.

Starting next offseason, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Atlanta Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst plan to work together in suicide prevention.

Hurst approached Prescott after the Cowboys' 40-39 win Sunday in a moment that was caught on camera.

Hurst has been open about attempting suicide and dealing with anxiety and depression. Prescott's brother, Jace, died by suicide in April, and the quarterback discussed his feelings of depression during the early parts of the coronavirus pandemic.

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