IRVING, TX - DECEMBER 20: DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during their NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens at Texas Stadium on December 20, 2008 in Irving, Texas. The Ravens defeated the Cowboys 33-24. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Atlanta Falcons have allowed only two sacks this season, tied with the Giants and Colts for the best mark in the league in this regard. Dallas's defense, on the other hand, has struggled out of the gate with respect to getting to the passer, with just ten sacks over the first five games.
This after leading the NFL with 59 sacks in 2008.
But DeMarcus Ware, the individual sacks leader last season with 20, believes that the statistics are nice, if not a bit misleading; going into a game against a deft young offense, which Michael Irvin recently compared to the early-nineties Cowboys, pressure, and not necessarily sacks, is the key.
"You got to go out there and play and hope for the best, and the main thing is getting pressure in his face, knowing that he is there," Ware said on Wednesday. "I mean, sacks are sort of overrated but at the end of the day you've got to get pressure on him, got to let him know that we're there and find some way to make it work."
Failing actually getting to the sophomore quarterback in the backfield--which is always nice, no doubt--Ware continued that the defense will look to take Ryan out of his comfort zone, while maintaining a sense of discipline--attacking within the scheme.
"If you're running, you can't really throw it," Ware said. "You've got to stop eventually to throw the ball, and they do a lot of bootlegs and waggles and screens and all kinds of different formations, so they're going to find ways to protect him, and when he's out of the pocket he's a little more vulnerable. We'll have a bunch of guys running after him, but we've got to be fundamentally sound in the backfield, because he knows how to throw the ball deep still."
Dallas is well aware that the Falcons represent a monumentally important, potentially dangerous, but ultimately winnable game--a football team reliant on discipline as much as talent. This is an area with which the Cowboys have struggled of late, making Sunday's game against Atlanta a good litmus test for the defense and the team as a whole.
"This is one of the best offenses in the league, they don't make many mistakes, so we can't make any mistakes at all," said Ware. "We got to get out there and play to a whole other level."