Discipline is setting in as team identity under McCarthy

McCarthy tries every week to answer reporters’ questions without giving anything away , only to have Jethro inevitably spill all the beans a few hours later, but he’s never been shy about what he wants this Cowboys team to look like. Toughness, physicality, discipline, and an emphasis on complementary football.

When the season kicked off, and the Cowboys lost to Tampa in embarrassing fashion, it sure looked like this team was far away from that identity. But this team is now four games into the 2022 season and they’re 3-1.

To make that feat even more impressive, McCarthy has done it without Prescott . The Cowboys have weathered this storm by becoming the team McCarthy wants them to be.

Complementary football has been the name of the game for Dallas on this three-game win streak. The offense has struggled with Rush currently ranked 25th in total offense while having some really good drives along with its fair share of duds. You expect that with a backup quarterback. But this 7th ranked defense has played lights out, and they’ve yet to allow multiple touchdowns in a game .

The Cowboys have also looked noticeably more physical in the trenches. This offensive line had its share of struggles against a really good Washington defensive front, but Dallas has had plenty of instances where they’ve bullied opponents on the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. That’s been a welcome change of pace for this franchise.

Then there’s the matter of discipline, and it’s not something that’s come easily. Every Cowboys fan knows by now that they led the league in penalties last year, and McCarthy spent a lot of time in the offseason harping on it. Again, Week 1 suggested that McCarthy had failed to address the problem, as Dallas was flagged for 10 penalties and 73 total yards. Same ol’ Cowboys, right?

Well, in the three games the Cowboys have played since then, Dallas has been flagged just 17 times. Eight of those penalties came in the game against the Giants. Of course, the Giants also had eight penalties in the game, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that the officiating crew for a nationally televised game was just calling things tight.

The more important factor in the penalty totals, though, is that the Cowboys have not been the more penalized team in any of their last three games. For context, the Cowboys had less penalties than their opponent in just four games last year. They’ve already done that three times this year.

Discipline is more than just avoiding penalties, though. The Cowboys haven’t made back-breaking mistakes that cost them a chance at victory. The offense has, of course, struggled at times this year, but they’ve rarely had blunders that put themselves into unmanageable third-down situations. Defensively, the Cowboys have avoided the mental mistakes that often result in big plays by the offense.

McCarthy wants a team that doesn’t flinch, no matter what happens. Well, the Cowboys were punched in the mouth in Week 1 and lost their franchise quarterback. Three weeks later, it’s clear that this team didn’t flinch. That’s a credit to the head coach and discipline he’s instilled.

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