Defense’s Hot Start Is The Cowboys’ ‘Thermostat’

“They are definitely our thermostat.”

Backup quarterback Cooper Rush’s poise and 95.9 passer rating has been a major factor in the Cowboys’ 3-1 start and three-game win streak during quarterback Dak Prescott’s three-game injury absence (thumb). But Rush pointed to the defense as the catalyst for the team’s collective success.

“They’re the reason we’re winning,” Rush said. “…As an offense, knowing that they have your back like that is huge.”

Despite their strong start, the defense believes there’s another level they can reach.

“I think we’ve really got a chance to be the best defensive team in this league,” linebacker Micah Parsons said. “The way we prepare and the way we calculate, the players we have — everyone’s hungry out here, and I think that’s just been the key. … That’s the type of standard, and (we’re) hungry. Every week we’ve got to (keep) getting better. Each step we’ve got to keep getting better.”

McCarthy on Monday identified two ways the offense can continue to improve: run defense and takeaways.

The Cowboys currently rank 27th against the run, allowing 137.5 yards per game. Washington piled up 142 yards on 27 carries on Sunday in a clear effort to balance out the offense for quarterback Carson Wentz, who was sacked nine times in Week 3 by the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Commanders had trouble sustaining and finishing drives, however, converting only 5 of 15 third downs. And Wentz (25-of-42, 170 yards, one…

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