Look at the teams that are playing deep into the playoffs over the last 15 years and you will see that 9 out of every 10 have something in common. Defense. The defense for nearly every Super Bowl team over the last few years has played extremely well down the stretch and in the playoffs. They make big plays when the game is on the line. These aren't necessarily the teams that have dominant defenses during the entire regular season, but the defenses play well when the stakes get high.
Why do I bring this up? The Cowboys defense needs to step up and play better next season. With all of the talk about T.O., Romo, and Garrett, the shoddy play of the defense down the stretch seems to be getting lost in the shuffle. We all can see that they can play well in short stretches within each game, but how many games can you honestly say that the Cowboys won this season because the defense was dominant? Tampa Bay, maybe Washington, and...and...and...that is all I can come up with.
Demarcus Ware is a phenomenal player, but who else makes big plays for this team? Terrance Newman is capable of being a dominant player, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy for 2 consecutive seasons and counting. Jay Ratliff makes plays in the middle of the field but he seems to wear down over the course of the game probably due to his lack of size at the tackle position. For all of the players on this defense that are highly touted it is astounding to see how often they fold under pressure.
When the game is on the line for the Ravens you expect Ed Reed AND Ray Lewis to make plays. For the Steelers, it is Troy Polamalu AND James Harrison. For the Giants on their Super Bowl run it was the entire defensive line. You see my point? Demarcus Ware seems to be alone in his quest for the Cowboys. Do we have the player on this defense who can be the second impact player on the defense? I wish I knew the answer.
The list of candidates is long: Terrance Newman, Jay Ratliff, Anthony Spencer, Greg Ellis, Bradie James, maybe Mike Jenkins, maybe Orlando Scandrick, or even Roy Williams if he could transform into what he used to be. I know these guys are all good players, but we need at least one of them to step up and be great along side Demarcus Ware.