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Cowboys vs. Vikings: Dallas underrated star for Week 11

Coming off a tough loss that saw the defense struggle, the Cowboys will need someone from that unit to step up this week to change the narrative.

Chicago Bears v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

There really isn’t any other way to describe the Dallas Cowboys Week 10 performance other than disappointing. Heading to Lambeau Field to face a Green Bay Packers team on a five-game losing streak, knowing what the game meant to head coach Mike McCarthy, coming out of that matchup with a loss is a tough pill to swallow. The NFL doesn’t give you much time to wallow in self pity though as the Cowboys are in the thick of a three games in 12 days stretch where a trip to Minnesota to play the hottest team in the league is up next.

If the Cowboys don’t find a way to overtake the 8-1 Vikings on Sunday it begins to really sow seeds of doubt for this team’s legitimacy. They will head into Thanksgiving 6-4 and on a two-game losing streak and facing the tough task of beating a division foe in the New York Giants. A lot can be learned about this Cowboys team as the month of November winds down, and maybe none more important than how they respond after a tough emotional overtime loss.

Week 11 underrated star

Leighton Vander Esch

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Leighton Vander Esch is this week’s underrated star because quite simply, he needs to be. The book is out on this Cowboys defense, and if you want to win against them it seems all you need to do is commit to the run. The Cowboys have gone back-to-back weeks giving up 200 plus rushing yards and that’s simply unacceptable. They are struggling to stop the run on the edge, and are being hit for big chunks up the middle as well. With Anthony Barr dealing with a hamstring injury, and Micah Parsons being used in multiple spots, it leaves Vander Esch tasked with needing to be the consistent piece holding down the second level of this defense.

To stop the run it is a full unit commitment that takes effort and understanding from every guy on that field. The big fellas up front need to find ways to get off blocks, or at the very least, eat up their blocks with the idea of not allowing for offensive lineman to get to the second level and taking linebackers out of the play. The secondary needs to be able and willing tacklers on the edge as that is where most teams have had their success against this unit. Without everybody on the same page, it simply will not be enough to win this week with a running back like Dalvin Cook up next.

Vander Esch will need to elevate his game this week and will need to find a way to also get the same out of the ones around him as well. There is enough speed and athleticism on this Cowboys defense to run with anybody, where this team needs to get better is with their physicality. Vander Esch can be that presence for this team and if he is able to play downhill, and lock in to make a concerted effort to stop the run sideline to sideline, this team will be better for it not only this week, but moving forward. Leighton Vander Esch is this week’s underrated star, and if he is able to play to that billing the perception of this defense can change as it needs too.

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