If there’s one pleasant surprise to the Cowboys’ start it’s the …
Elusiveness of DeMarco Murray? Nope.
Balance in the offensive play-calling? Right.
Consistency of Monte Kiffin’s defense in forcing turnovers? Hardly.
The defensive line? I know, me too.
No Jay Ratliff. No Tyrone Crawford. Minimal Anthony Spencer. No problem. Big production.
Maybe we’re impressed because – given the pre-season injuries to those three key players – the bar was set so low. Or perhaps it’s because defensive line coach Rod Marinelli’s crew has stamped a positive impact on the season. The front four in Dallas’ new scheme has already produced five sacks, 23 quarterback pressures, two tackles for loss, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure the line would contribute that in the first six weeks.
“There is a sense of relentless spirit they’re playing with,” head coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday at Valley Ranch. “The might embody that as much as anybody on our team.”
They don’t exactly invoke memories of Harvey Martin and Randy White and Too Tall Jones and Bob Lilly and Charles Haley, but props to guys named George Selvie and Nick Hayden and, especially, Jason Hatcher. While DeMarcus Ware is attracting his normal double-teams and triple-attention, Hatcher has been the Cowboys’ most disruptive force along the line. He's matched Ware's team-leading two sacks, but has six more tackles the perennial All-Pro.
Until Ratliff returns after Week 6 and until Spencer and his bothersome knee regain form, the line needs to continue overachieving. Especially Sunday against the Rams, who have yet to allow a sack of quarterback Sam Bradford.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.