The truth hurts, and it hit the Dallas Cowboys across the head, thanks to Everson Walls.
Appearing on NBC5 after the game, the legendary Cowboys defensive back picked apart the team’s disappointing loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 4 — a defeat that proved to Walls they haven’t yet earned a seat at the big boy’s table.
“It just lets you know we are not where we’re supposed to be right now,” he said. “Our competition that we played against earlier in the season, obviously that was a benefit to us. Now we see what we have to do to be that elite team that we’re trying to be. We’re talking about the Cowboys at least going to the NFC Championship game, and it’s either that or bust. If we want to be better, we have to beat the Patriots. We have to beat teams like the Packers. We have to beat these elite teams in order for us to feel like we need to be at the top with them.”
Nobody denies that Dallas laid an egg in New Orleans, failing to reach the end zone and never finding a consistent offensive rhythm, such as they did in Weeks 1-3. The silver lining was the defense, which held Teddy Bridgewater to 193 scoreless passing yards and Alvin Kamara to just 69 rushing yards, all the while chipping in five sacks.
A silver lining but not the gold-medal performance needed in today’s sport, countered Walls.
“When you take a look at what’s important in the NFL these days, turnovers are the key,” he said. “I don’t care how you do it. If you knock a pass down, the offensive team still has a chance to get another score. If you get the ball and turn it over, the momentum of the entire game is different. The opposing offense, they’re looking at you in a different way, and they have less confidence in their gameplan. The momentum totally shifts with either an interception, a strip-fumble, a strip-sack, or anything like that. These are the things that we have to be more prevalent with, in order to be this elite team we want to be.”
To Walls’ point, which is legitimate, the Cowboys have collected only one interception (Chidobe Awuzie vs. Saints) and forced six fumbles, recovering three. In terms of total takeaways, Dallas ranks 26th in the league, and their -1 differential groups them near the bottom with the likes of Arizona, Oakland and Jacksonville.
The Cowboys’ biggest defensive issue — we already know the offense’s — is clear as day and, as Walls intimated, has to change if they’re aiming to play deep into January.
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Walls Reveals Key to Beating Pack
The schedule was a cakewalk in September, but things take a turn for the difficult in October, as Dallas welcomes Aaron Rodgers Green Bay into AT&T Stadium for what may devolve into a shootout.
While they’ll no doubt have their hands full attempting to curtail the future Hall-of-Fame gunslinger, it’s Dak Prescott and company who are the X-factors. Topple a surprisingly stout Packers defense or risk birthing a losing streak, explains Walls.
“I believe they’re the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL,” he said. “That makes them dangerous. That means we have to take care of the ball even more so than we tried to do here tonight against the Saints. These are things that are very prevalent for the Cowboys, because if you’re talking about beating the Green Bay Packers, you’re almost gonna have to be flawless. If you leave any crack for Aaron Rodgers — I don’t care how bad of a game he’s having; it could be ugly, it could be inconsistent — he’s going to put together that last drive against your defense, because he is that coach on the field.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL