IRVING, Texas– After the first four games of this season, the Dallas Cowboys had already garnered 14 sacks.
After the next four, or the second quarter of the season, the Cowboys had just seven more.
The third quarter of the season – games played in November – the Cowboys’ defense mustered only five quarterback sacks.
And one game into this December run, the Cowboys have just one sack.
That’s not exactly the kind of trend this team is looking for as it now must win at least two games, perhaps all three of the final three to make the playoffs.
So where’s the rush?
“We’ve got to get back to that,” said DeMarcus Ware, who has been banged up for parts of this season and has just six sacks this year. “It’s on us. We’ve got to get more pressure on the quarterback. This is the time of year when the lights come on. So we have to be better.”
And maybe, Green Bay will be the opponent that allows that. At least statistically, that could happen if backup Matt Flynn plays for Aaron Rodgers, who has tried to come back from a broken collarbone.
The Packers have allowed 37 sacks this year, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. Of those 37 sacks allowed, 12 have come in the last two weeks with Flynn under center.
But while the Packers have endured their share of injuries, the Cowboys aren’t feeling sorry for them, especially when it comes to their defensive line. Since the first day of training camp when expected contributor Tyrone Crawford suffered a torn Achilles, it’s been one injury after another. The Cowboys have played nearly 20 different defensive linemen since the start of the season, although the starters haven’t changed much.
One of the players signed in training camp was George Selvie, who is tied with Ware for second on the team in sacks with six. But he hasn’t recorded one since the Vikings game, going four straight weeks without dropping the quarterback.
“I just have to keep working at it,” Selvie said. “You can’t get down on yourself. You have to keep fighting out there. That’s what we all have to do as a team. (Sacks) will come. You just have to keep getting the pressure.”
Coach Jason Garrett was asked if players such as Selvie has hit the proverbial wall.
“I think he’s a good consistent football player and has been all year long for us,” Garrett said of Selvie, who was flagged for two illegal hits on the quarterback against the Bears. “He was around the quarterback a little bit the other night in the ballgame. He comes to work every day. He’s not a dynamic, dynamic, dynamic pass rusher, but to me every game he shows up and somehow positively impacts the game.”
Selvie, of course, is starting for Anthony Spencer, who signed a $10.63 million franchise tag this year, only to play in one game because of a knee injury that eventually needed microfracture surgery.
The Cowboys have been blessed to have Selvie, who has started all 13 games at defensive end. They can’t say the same for Ware, who has started 10 games, missing the only three games of his career back in late October because of a quad strain that he says has healed 100 percent.
After Ware and Selvie, the Dallas Cowboys will likely have a new face this week in Edgar Jones, who has been on IR/Designated for Return since Week 2. Jones has been out with a groin injury that needed sports hernia surgery. He has practiced this week and Garrett said the Cowboys are expecting him to play.
At this point, after signing guys like Everette Brown, Jarius Wynn and Martez Wilson, not to mention numerous other ends who have already been signed and released, the Dallas Cowboys are hoping for some kind of spark.
RELATED: DeMarcus Ware “Knows For A Fact” that he’ll be a disruptive force
DeMarcus Ware & Sean Lee (3:14) | (Watch this Video)
DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee discuss the state of the Dallas Cowboys defense and give updates on their injury status’.
IRVING, Texas – There’s no doubt in DeMarcus Ware’s mind that he can still be and will be a disruptive force going forward.
It’s been a tough stretch for Ware, who has just two sacks in his last seven games and is in danger of finishing a season with single-digit sacks for the first time since his rookie year, but he believes he’ll get back to his previous form.
“Every week, you’ve got to be your worst critic, and that’s me,” Ware said. “For me, I know I haven’t been playing the way I need to be playing. So you go back to the drawing board and say, ‘Hey, what am I doing wrong or what do I need to change to be more effective?’ It’s just the small things. It goes back down to fundamentals, doing the bags, doing tackling drills, doing those types of things.”
It’s not an issue of health, according to Ware, who dealt with a thigh injury as his sack totals dipped in the middle of the season. He said he came out of the Raiders game healthy and has felt fine physically since.
He also said there are no excuses as long as he’s feeling healthy and himself, which he apparently is.
Ware asked a reporter what his name was, to which the reporter replied, ‘DeMarcus Ware.’
“All right, ain’t nothing changed,” Ware said. “I don’t feel like nothing’s changed. December, it’s always a time where the lights turn on and you’ve got to separate yourself apart from everybody. That’s what we have to do these last three games, and we’re going to do that.”
The Cowboys’ defense needs Ware to become the player he was in training camp and at the beginning of the season if its to turn things around and start reaching the quarterback. Ware said the most significant issue the defense has faced in recent weeks is giving up the big play. He also said defenders haven’t been consistent in their fundamentals, and that includes himself.
He said it’s more on the players than the coaching staff to turn things around.
“The coaching, the scheme is really good,” Ware said. “It always goes back down to fundamentals, doing the right things at the right time. And it’s all about timing. Our defense is all about hustle, hustling to the ball, getting strip sacks, making the big plays. We haven’t been consistent doing that these last games.”
But Ware said he knows for a fact he’ll get back to the level he’s accustomed to playing, and neither Ware nor head coach Jason Garrett believe his switch from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 defensive end has been the reason for his statistical decline. At times, Ware will still play 4-3 end while standing up, as he was accustomed to doing most of his career.
Though Ware said he’s healthy, Garrett referenced the injury Ware’s fought through as a possible reason for limited productivity.
“He has been dealing with the injury for a lot of the year,” Garrett said. “Get him healthy and get him ready to go, and really focus on this challenge right here. Don’t worry about how we got to this point. Just get going. Put your hand on the ground and go affect the ball game.”
Garrett’s still got confidence in his top outside rusher and believes he’ll return to form this week.
“He can do what he needs to do,” Garrett said “There’s no question about that. Again, he’s dealing with an injury and he’s coming off the injury and hopefully he heals up more and more as it goes.”