After having a three-game stretch without a sack, the Cowboys defensive line has peeled off five with free agent defensive tackle Henry Melton spearheading the effort with 3.5 sacks.
For Melton, the challenge remains in getting stronger, healthier, and fresher.
"It’s kind of like growing pains," the 2012 Pro Bowler said. "It’s going to take you some time, and you get frustrated sometimes. But God is good. Just have to come out here and keep grinding and, you know, keep working."
Defensive end Jeremy Mincey, another free agent acquisition in the off-season, believes the sack surge has to do with the defensive line being able to relax.
"I would say guys just relaxing and playing ball," Mincey said. "It’s not like we weren’t getting home.
"It takes a lot of concentration. You’ve got to go through it over and over and need repetition. And guys are working hard getting those reps. And you can’t hit a quarterback at practice. So, it’s hard to bend the corner and come full speed, you know."
The Cowboys’ 12 sacks still rank them with having the fifth-fewest in the league. The only teams with winning records that have fewer sacks than Dallas are the Seattle and Arizona.
Rather than be discouraged, the defensive line has remained steadfast, and thus the sacks have started to come.
Eight-year veteran defensive end Anthony Spencer believes it’s a combination of the players focusing on getting better, and also other units pushing them to be better.
"We play against one of the best offensive lines in practice every day," said Spencer. "So, that always helps."
Through nine games last season, the Cowboys had 23, despite all the injuries to the defensive line, one of which was Spencer, who missed all but one game in 2013. Through nine games this year, sacks have dropped nearly in half.
"We got a long way to go," Mincey acknowledges.
"But I think we’re going to climb this hill pretty good."