FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys defense has different coaching, a different scheme (or schemes) and different personnel.
But, fourth-year safety Xavier Woods, points out, the goal remains ever-present.
"We're gonna gel, become a family, become a brotherhood and hopefully,'' Woods says, "be able to make a Super Bowl run."
Given all the changes and challenges, that's going to take some work; as of now, there is very little gelling; Woods notes that he works out on a track and field at a school near his DFW home and that most of his interaction comes with the occasional autograph-seeker.
But Woods suggests that the changes under new head coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan are positive ones.
"As far as defensive, it's totally different," Woods said. "A lot more defenses (schemes) than what we've played the past two years. ... More than just Cover 3 and man-to-man. More pre-snap disguises."
It's valid to suggest that under the previous regime, the defensive coaching staff leaned heavily on a "beat-the-man-across-from-you'' mindset. It'll take time to establish that "this way'' is actually superior. Woods concedes that, noting that until the Cowboys move from the COVID-19-induced classroom to actually being on the field at The Star, he can't really gauge true progress.
'You don't really know that you can do it until you get on the field and do it,'' he says. "But we're doing all we can.''
Woods hinted that so far the other starter at safety is veteran newcomer Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, and suggested that it'll take some veteran leadership to make up for the free-agency secondary departures of Jeff Heath and Byron Jones.
"It's definitely different not hearing those voices because those were the leaders of the group,'' Woods says, knowing that now it's his turn to take on some of that responsibility.
"We feed off each other," Woods says of his relationship with Clinton-Dix. "He has knowledge to give me, and what I know I give him. Hopefully we keep that going all the way throughout the season."
Hopefully, in Woods' view, all the way to a Cowboys run toward the Super Bowl.