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.
Can Rookie OL Connor McGovern Compete For A Starting Spot?
Raising eyebrows in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys added Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern to their already deep OL depth chart.
McGovern, who played guard for the Nittany Lions, was reportedly by-far the best player remaining on the Cowboys draft board when they came on the clock in round three. Still, with seemingly more pressing needs yet to be addressed, Dallas' selection of McGovern was certainly a surprise.
When you watch the tape, though, you immediately see what the Cowboys loved about Connor McGovern.
A "plug-and-play" type guard, Connor McGovern is the type of rookie you'd expect to contribute in year one. On many teams he may be a candidate to start at guard or center from the beginning of his rookie season, but here in Dallas, his role for the 2019 season is somewhat in question.
Clearly, being a day two pick, there's no doubt that McGovern will make the Cowboys roster. But can he compete for a starting job?
During OTA's McGovern took reps at both guard and center, pointing towards the possibility of him being the first interior offensive lineman off the bench if one of the starters were to go down with an injury. Fellow interior linemen Joe Looney and Xavier Su'a-Filo each contributed in big ways during the 2018 season, however, and will be tough to beat out during camp.
While possible, I would still say it's unlikely. The Cowboys selection of McGovern seems to be more about 2020 and beyond than it is about the 2019 season. With right tackle La'el Collins coming up on a contract year, Dallas might elect to let him walk in free agency, move Williams back to his college position of tackle, and slide McGovern into the left guard slot.
This seems fool-proof in theory, but this many moving parts across the offensive line could spell trouble early on in 2020. Regardless, Connor McGovern's arrival gives Dallas the flexibility to consider all options on their offensive line.
In reality, McGovern strengthened a strength for Dallas, and may be needed to prove himself as early as this Fall if injury issues arise.
Cowboys en Español: Analizando al Rival Más Fuerte en la NFC East
Los Dallas Cowboys se han llevado el título de la NFC East tres de los últimos cinco años. Dos veces han sido con el QB Dak Prescott como el titular. Sin embargo, no han logrado llevarse la división en años consecutivos. De hecho, ningún equipo de la NFC East ha logrado coronarse campeón divisional en años consecutivos desde el 2004. Los Cowboys, actuales campeones del grupo, buscarán romper esa tendencia en la temporada que está por comenzar en septiembre.
Los New York Giants, Washington Redskins y Philadelphia Eagles intentarán evitar que tal hazaña suceda. Sin embargo, parece ser que solo uno de estos tres equipos podrá ser rival para un equipo de Dallas bastante completo tanto en ofensiva como en defensiva.
Los Eagles, quienes estuvieron en postemporada al igual que los Cowboys en 2018 (pero en calidad de comodín), cuentan con un muy fuerte equipo para la próxima temporada. En las apuestas deportivas, las casas de apuesta tienen como favorito a ganar la división a Philadelphia. El margen de diferencia entre ambos equipos es muy pequeño, poniendo las expectativas para ambas ciudades en aproximadamente el mismo nivel.
Para Eagles, termina una agotadora discusión entre Nick Foles y Carson Wentz después de que el veterano partiera a Jacksonville en la agencia libre y dejara a la segunda selección global del 2016 al mando de su equipo, como debería de ser. Wentz es un QB prometedor para su equipo. Antes de lesionarse en 2017, era el claro favorito para ser premiado como el MVP de la temporada. Pero la fortaleza del equipo va más allá de su mariscal de campo.
Doug Pederson ha demostrado ser un head coach muy capaz en la NFL, y tiene la fortuna de liderar un equipo repleto de talento. Similar a los Cowboys, los Eagles tuvieron un offseason algo discreto pero efectivo.
En ofensiva, Eagles consiguió talento para el juego terrestre después de conseguir al ex-Chicago Bear Jordan Howard y al novato de Penn State, Miles Sanders. Como receptor hace su regreso a Philadelphia Desean Jackson, quien será un arma peligrosa con Alshon Jeffery y Nelson Agholor.
Para la defensiva, consiguieron ayuda en la línea defensiva (que de por sí lucía muy talentosa) firmando al DT Malik Jackson. Como linebacker, una posición en la que necesitaban una mejora, llega Zach Brown. Ese frente defensivo es de temerse, sin duda.
Pero no solo se trata de aquellos jugadores nuevos en Philadelphia, sino las retenciones claves. Con Eagles se quedan después de firmar extensiones y nuevos contratos el centro Jason Kelce, el tackle Jason Peters, el caza cabezas Brandon Graham y el cornerback Ronald Darby.
Los Cowboys tienen un rival fuerte a quien superar si quieren llevarse el título de la división por segundo año consecutivo. Ambos equipos se enfrentan en las semanas 7 y 16, pero la NFC East se tendrá que ganar con un esfuerzo en los 16 partidos de la temporada.
Recientemente, Eagles y Cowboys han representado la rivalidad más importante dentro de la división y el 2019 no será la excepción. A nosotros como aficionados, nos espera un espectáculo.
What Will Joe Looney’s Role Look Like In 2019?
The quick answer to the question the title poses is: he will be the backup center.
And, well, yes. Duh. Right?
Now that veteran center Travis Frederick has returned to claim his rightful spot on the Cowboys offensive line, Joe Looney must slide back into his backup role. Looney filled in for the All Pro center admirably in 2018, playing well above expectation level for much of the season. Still, there was clearly a drop off in play between he and Frederick, especially when it came to communication across the offensive line.
It may not be as simple as "Joe Looney is back to being a backup interior lineman," though, especially considering the offseason which the Cowboys had. Dallas went out and added Penn State guard Connor McGovern with their second selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, adding him to a very crowded interior group.
Now, Joe Looney is joined by two guards which played significant time in 2018 in Connor Williams and Xavier Su'a-Filo, the unquestioned starter Travis Frederick, and this rookie who draft pundits have praised to be plug-and-play on the inside.
Looney himself, however, doesn't sound too concerned about how these pieces may fall during Training Camp. “Whatever happens, happens. My role is to be the best player that I can be. When the team needs me, my job is to be ready,” Looney told DallasCowboys.com recently. "Right now, it’s about getting better. If my number is called, I’ll be ready.”
There's no question that Joe Looney is both a favorite of the fans, and in the Cowboys locker room. The jolly lineman which NBC's Cris Collinsworth dubbed "Jumbo Joe" has proved his worth both on and off the field during his time in Dallas. Still, he isn't the player now that someone like Frederick is, and he doesn't have the ceiling or potential that someone like Connor Williams has.
One of these interior linemen is likely to be released before the season starts, but my guess would not be Joe Looney. Su'a-Filo did a fine job when Connor Williams missed time due to injury in 2018, but he is likely the odd man out on the interior of the Cowboys offensive line.
Joe Looney's ability and comfortability at the center position is extremely valuable, as is his experience from a season ago playing a full season for this offensive line. It would be extremely difficult for Dallas to move on from him in favor of lesser-known players, especially if Frederick's health is still any sort of question mark.
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