After a rough beginning to 2009, culminating in an embarrassing showing against New York in week two, the Dallas Cowboys' secondary has stepped up to another level, making good on the team's insistence throughout the off-season and training camp that the big play--unlike 2008--would be a part of the secondary.
The reasons for this are myriad, and not entirely clear at the moment; the acquisition of Gerald Sensabaugh, an adept safety with the ability to hit like Roy Williams in his prime must have something to do with it, as must the maturation of second-year cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick.
But more than these components in and of themselves, the difference is seen in the unit's body language on the field, an intensity that has come from a sense of competition between its members. They say competition breeds greatness, and the secondary has been pretty great recently, making big, timely plays a habit.
With the competitive swagger permeating through the secondary, confidence was an inevitability. Mike Jenkins, who has seemingly grown into his role as starter since taking the spot opposite Terence Newman after the New York game, says that expectations among the unit have risen in recent weeks, which may explain, in part at least, the success of the secondary over the team's three-game winning streak.
"I feel like as long as we're physical and we play our game, it's really going to be hard to just compete with us," Jenkins said. "When I look across the field at Terence, he knows I'm going to try to make a big play. It's all about competing. We go back and forth."