Last night I was washing dishes and, as I sometimes do, I reflect on the great problems of the world. You know, poverty, the deficit, and the numbers game present on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line. Ok, that last one isn't really a problem. Not even a first world problem. It's more of a conundrum that I was pondering.
Dallas' defensive line is looking as deep as it has in a long time. It may not have a lot of star power--yet--but there are several players who show a lot of promise.
I could see as many as nine making the 53 man roster out of training camp. When David Irving comes back from his suspension, I could see them carrying 10 defensive linemen on the 53.
As I was getting the dishes cleaned from taco night--which is undefeated--and trying to solve the Dallas Cowboys' defensive line numbers game, the question that came to my mind was: "How important is it to carry two 1-technique defensive tackles on the 53-man roster?"
NFL teams are beginning to use 11-personnel--one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers--as their base offensive grouping more than ever before.
In 2016, the NFL deployed 11-personnel on 60% of the offensive snaps, according to FootballOutsiders.com. The next closest personnel grouping was 12 personnel--one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers--and was only used 17% of the time. In fact, the usage rate of 11-personnel has increased from 40% in 2010 to now 60%.
Only five teams, the New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, and New York Jets utilized 11-personnel on less than 50% of their offensive snaps.
18 teams used 11-personnel more than 60% of the time, including the Dallas Cowboys (60%). Seven teams used it more than 70% of the time.
Of Dallas Cowboys opponents for 2017, only the Atlanta Falcons used 11-personnel less than 50% of the time in 2016.
The Dallas Cowboys will play in their nickel and dime defenses a lot in 2017. They'll need to get guys on the field who can both rush the passer with consistency and play the run as well.
With only 46 slots available to the active roster, the team has to make a lot of decisions on who it can bring on game day. Against teams like the New York Giants or San Francisco 49ers it may be more valuable to bring an extra cornerback, defensive end, tight end or extra offensive lineman than it is a second 1-tech.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive line versatility could even allow the team to deactivate Stephen Paea or Cedric Thornton.
Defensive Line 53-Man Roster Projection
I think it'll become more of a reality as we get closer to the season starting, but my hope, and the hope of many in Cowboys Nation is that they will move Tyrone Crawford back to 3-technique. He is better suited for that role and he plays his best there.
With the versatility along the defensive line, left defensive ends like Tyrone Crawford and Taco Charlton can bump inside and play in the 3-technique role.
David Irving's four game suspension gives them a little bit of flexibility as they open week one, but still there are a lot of guys that have a lot of potential to have an impact on the team.
When he comes back, Irving is another guy that can play inside at the 3-tech.
Maliek Collins, who is the starting 3-tech for the team, also has the ability to play the 1-technique. So again, why bring two 1-techniques to play the 11-personnel, pass happy New York Giants?
Along the defensive line, the two players that led the 2016 Dallas Cowboys in snaps were Maliek Collins (62%) and Tyrone Crawford (59%). Two players who are at their best rushing the quarterback from the inside 3-technique position.
Terrell McClain, who was the starting 1-technique tackle, played on only 44% of the teams defensive snaps. 2016 backup and projected 2017 starter Cedric Thornton, only played on 26% of the teams defensive snaps.
While Stephen Paea and Cedric Thornton could be solid contributors from the 1-technique position, if you're using them on less than half the defensive plays, is it worth having a backup taking up a roster spot?
Collins' can play both defensive tackle positions.
Crawford, Charlton, and Irving can play the strong side defensive end and the 3-technique tackle spots.
So wouldn't it make more sense to carry only one 1-technique tackle on game days? Especially against a team like the Giants, who will have you in your nickel package for nearly 90% of the game.
In week one, the Dallas Cowboys will face the New York Giants and will have decisions to make along the defensive line. In order to get their best players on the field, they need to get creative about their defensive tackle deployment.
How The Seattle Seahawks Have Increased Importance In Cowboys’ Lore
You can't talk about this decade's Dallas Cowboys without discussing the Seattle Seahawks.
In 2012, when Golden Tate took out Sean Lee on a crack-back block and the Seahawks embarrassed a Cowboys team who had just defeated the defending champion New York Giants, we saw which of the two teams was truly ready for the big stage.
In 2014, as Rolando McClain intercepted Russell Wilson and the Cowboys clinched a critical road victory, we knew that Dallas was a legit contender.
In 2015, when Seattle finally came to Dallas and rendered the return of Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant meaningless in a 13-12 win, the then 2-5 Cowboys were sent further into a Romo-less abyss.
And, in 2017, Dez Bryant's key drops and Dan Bailey's missed field goals during a horrendous home loss to the Seahawks on Christmas Eve might have sealed each of their fates for the following offseason.
The most important moment in this Cowboys/Seahawks history, however, occurred during a preseason game. A meaningless preseason game which turned out to be the most meaningful day in recent Cowboys history.
Cliff Avril dragging Tony Romo down from behind, effectively ending his career, and kicking off the roster massive turnover we have seen the last two offseasons. From Dak Prescott, to a brand new secondary, to the retirement of Jason Witten, and the cutting of Dez Bryant. All of this change, which put an end to the Romo era rosters in Dallas, began with that hit in Seattle.
Since 2012 the Cowboys, and the rest of the NFC really, have been judged by how they play against two teams: the Packers and the Seahawks.
They have been the class of the NFC, and while we like to think that if the "Dez Caught It" game went how it should have Dallas would've handled Seattle, that will forever be an unknown.
Sunday's game is not expected to carry the franchise-changing implications that some of these other match ups have had. The Seahawks are 0-2 and reeling, with a shaky offensive line and reported distrust throughout the organization.The Cowboys, however, can jump-start their season with a big road win over a winless team that they should beat in the minds of many.
But knowing how things between these teams tend to go, Sunday afternoon may end up having major implications on the rest of the Cowboys' season.
Where this could be the case is in a potential Earl Thomas trade. It's been speculated that Seattle has been hesitant to deal Thomas to Dallas before their week 3 match up, but could be more willing to do so after the game.
Especially if that game is a loss which sends them to 0-3. The Cowboys have been actively pursuing Earl Thomas, and Thomas has certainly made it clear that he wants to be in Dallas. The only party not willing to make it happen thus far, are the Seahawks.
So, this weekend, there is a chance another chapter is added to those franchise-changing moments in Cowboys/Seahawks lore.
A Look Around The NFC East: Week 3
Week two didn't go as planned for much of the NFC East, with only the Dallas Cowboys reigning victorious last Sunday.
Now, three teams are locked in a tie for first place at 1-1, with the New York Giants lagging behind with a winless record. Week 3 is shaping up to be a potential early turning point, however, with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz returning and each team facing a very beatable opponent.
Let's take a look around the division and see what the Cowboys' foes will be facing this week.
The Eagles fell victim to one of the more surprising upsets of the weekend last Sunday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Eagles 27-21. While their defense got off to a shaky start in the loss, it was the offense which proved too little too late in their push down the stretch.
Carson Wentz is expected to not only return but to start on Sunday in the Eagles' match up against the Colts. Indianapolis upset the Washington Redskins last week, but will be 6 point underdogs when the game kicks off in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Wentz should give the defending champs an extra boost, and while they haven't looked as dominant as many expected through the first two games, this could be the game to spring them the rest of the way.
As mentioned earlier, the Redskins fell in Indianapolis last week, and are now tied for first place in the division with a 1-1 record. As dominant and impressive as Washington looked in their opener against Arizona, Washington's week two loss featured lethargic offensive play for four quarters.
This week the Redskins are three point home underdogs as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers come to town. Green Bay tied Minnesota a week ago, but behind Rodgers and their potent offense, they have the chance to take advantage of Washington's suspect secondary down the field.
Sunday will be a tough test for the Redskins as they look to get back above .500 against a tough conference opponent.
New York Giants
The Giants' season is on the brink this week, and that really isn't a dramatic statement at all. Now at 0-2 with a division loss to the Cowboys last week, the Giants have to beat the 0-2 Texans on Sunday to get some confidence and keep pace within the conference.
Lucky for them, the Texans haven't looked impressive whatsoever through two games. Unlucky for them, the Texans have strong pass rushers like JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney ready to abuse their weak offensive line.
Houston is a six point home favorite over the Giants, proving it will be an uphill battle for New York to save their season.
Cowboys en Español: La Defensiva de Dallas es Muy Real
Después de dos semanas de acción de los Dallas Cowboys, una cosa ha quedado más que clara. La defensiva del coordinador defensivo Rod Marinelli ha demostrado que es realmente buena. No como en otros años, que nos conformábamos con que la defensiva dejará avanzar y cediera tres puntos hasta que se rompía en el último cuarto.
No, ahora es diferente. Este año, los Dallas Cowboys tienen presión al QB opuesto. No sólo DeMarcus Lawrence, sino Taco Charlton, Randy Gregory y recientemente, los linebackers. Hemos visto a Jaylon Smith y Damien Wilson brindar presión y sobre todo, llegar a sus objetivos.
Los linebackers no han brillado sólo en esto, sino en otros ámbitos defensivos, como cobertura aérea y más. Incluso Joe Thomas ha logrado mantener su nivel que vimos en pretemporada cuando se le ha pedido entrar al campo.
Y en cuanto a la secundaria, no podríamos estar más agradecidos con la actuación de nuestros cornerbacks. Byron Jones está jugando a un nivel increíble. La semana pasada, Eli Manning sólo se atrevió a lanzar el balón en su dirección en cinco ocasiones. En esas cinco, consiguió sólo un pase completo para cero yardas. Chidobe Awuzie también ha tenido un gran inicio al 2018, manteniendo un nivel de juego consistente y efectivo. Estamos hablando de que el domingo pasado, estos dos cornerbacks se enfrentaron a uno de los mejores WR en la NFL, Odell Beckham Jr.
Finalmente, la posición de safety se ha visto como la unidad más débil en la defensiva. Jeff Heath es un titular promedio y Kavon Frazier tiene mucho camino por recorrer. Afortunadamente, hay esperanza de que Xavier Woods regrese de lesión este domingo.
A pesar de que en el 2016 todos veíamos a la ofensiva como nuestro futuro, es sorprendente el nivel que ha mostrado la defensiva. Es más agresiva, más efectiva y más confiable que en otros años. No podemos subestimar la llegada del coach Kris Richard al equipo.
Sobre todo después de que en el partido contra los New York Giants y los Carolina Panthers se demostró que Richard está involucrado directamente con las decisiones de las jugadas que se ejecutarán en el campo. Incluso Marinelli no tuvo problemas admitiendo que efectivamente, Richard estaba ganándose un rol en este aspecto.
Esto es muy relevante para los Dallas Cowboys, pues una de las cosas más destacadas que hemos visto las últimas semanas es el usaje de cargas o "blitzes" especiales en varias oportunidades. Incluyendo tercer down y largo.
Es algo que no habíamos visto nunca con el conservador Marinelli y que claramente es producto de Richard. Este personaje que viene de los Seattle Seahawks continua emergiendo como un candidato real al puesto de coordinador defensivo en el 2019 o quien sabe, quizá sea nombrado head coach si las cosas comienzan a ir mal para este equipo.
Sin duda alguna, la defensiva ha demostrado que es muy confiable y real. Es tiempo de que la ofensiva de Dallas responda a esto y comience a mover más las cadenas y sobre todo, aprovechar las oportunidades que tengan de anotar touchdowns. Empezar a depender de goles de campo nunca sale bien.
Sobre la llegada de Brice Butler
Increíblemente, Brice Butler regresó a los Dallas Cowboys, incluso después de todos los comentarios que hizo en ciertos programas de televisión. La primera reacción al respecto fue de confusión; ¿por qué regresar con un receptor que nunca fue tan especial y que habló tanto de Dallas?
La respuesta a esta pregunta se esclareció un poco este jueves por la noche cuando surgieron los rumores de que Terrance Williams, quien fue arrestado en el offseason por intoxicación pública, podría ser suspendido pronto por la NFL.
Esto probablemente no sucederá antes del partido de la semana 3, pero de todas maneras explica mucho sobre el último movimiento de los Cowboys.
En un partido bastante cerrado, creo que la defensiva de los Dallas Cowboys hará lo suficiente para llevarse la victoria. Es de suma importancia derribar a Russell Wilson y sobre todo, que la ofensiva tenga su mejor actuación de la campaña. La defensiva de Seahawks es bastante efectiva y no será sencillo vencerlos.
Marcador: Dallas Cowboys 21 - Seattle Seahawks 17
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