CLEVELAND - SEPTEMBER 07: Defensive end Marcus Spears #96 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates a defensive stop against the Cleveland Browns during the game at Cleveland Browns Stadium on September 7, 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Mildly alarming is the fact that Dallas has yet to reach the quarterback in 2009. After a year in which the team led the league in sacks, Dallas has been unable, over two games, to record one this year; this includes one game, at Tampa Bay, where Dallas defenders were ubiquitous in the Bucs' backfield, getting in ample shots on Byron Leftwich, but never before he got the ball off, and one game, against New York, that saw the Cowboys stop the run effectively, but never really put the heat on Eli Manning.
In an interesting Monday night match-up, Jake Delhomme comes to town, complete with 45.3 passer rating; the lightning rod of early criticism has been sacked 4 times already this season, to complement his five interceptions.
Last year, this would have spelled certain doom for Delhomme; Dallas defenders, hoping it still will, hoping that they will be able to break out of their slump, say that a new year and a new team have made adjustments all the more necessary to this end.
"I don't know if I'm the right guy to talk about sacks, to be honest with you," joked Marcus Spears yesterday. "It's a great stat, and the guys that get them get a lot of them, but at the end of the day, teams know that, so they're doing everything to negate us from getting to quarterbacks, whether it be throwing it away or keeping a lot of guys in to protect him. So we just got to figure some things out to get back there."
Dallas' reputation as a formidable pass rushing team, Spears said, has made the task of sacking the quarterback slightly more difficult. However, from week to week, the Cowboys pass rush remains a threat; whether or not they actually get to the passer relies heavily on the chess match that is NFL football.
"Now, these teams that we play, they are professionals, too, so they're on their end of things, trying to figure out how to do that, without getting their quarterback hit a lot, and it's just making adjustments, and it's a chess match, it goes back and forth," Spears said. "Some weeks we may hit the guy nine times, the next week we may hit him three, because they've made adjustments.