Defense-first mentality keeps Cowboys afloat before break

 Mike McCarthy and the Dallas Cowboys decided before the season that defense would define this team.

For a coach who inherited Dak Prescott and has a history of leading quarterback rooms

 that included Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, it was a significant realization.

Still, it made sense with a unit that included reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Micah Parsons,

 a veteran pass rushing partner in DeMarcus Lawrence and 2021 interceptions leader Trevon Diggs.

Now that the defense has carried the Cowboys (6-2) through five games without

“You want your defense to be the thermostat because the thermostat regulates the game

,” McCarthy said. “And they are clearly the thermostat for us, make no bones about it.”

It's hard to overstate the difference from McCarthy's Dallas debut in 2020,

when he hired old coaching buddy Mike Nolan to run what ended up being one of the worst defenses in franchise history.


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