Many of us around Cowboys Nation had high hopes for Randy Gregory after the way he played in 2018, but unfortunately those hopes have now all but died thanks to his most recent suspension. To make matters worse, the Dallas Cowboys now have to find more depth at the defensive end position through either free agency or the draft. The former is what I want to focus on today.
Since the Cowboys are planning to pay a hefty price to extend DeMarcus Lawrence's contract it's doubtful they will pay out for one of the top tier DEs available on the open market. Instead, they will likely focus on the mid to lower tier players. Determining who might be on their radar though is nearly impossible, but familiarity with a certain player, however little, could be a giveaway.
Here are five potential Randy Gregory replacements who have ties to Dallas:
Here is a name Cowboys Nation should be pretty familiar with. Benson Mayowa was a member of the Dallas Cowboys for the 2016 and 2017 seasons before eventually getting buried on the depth chart in the final year of his contract. He was actually the sack leader (6 QB sacks) for the Cowboys in 2016 when DeMarcus Lawrence only managed to play nine games.
Mayowa could be exactly the kind of cost-effective free agent defensive end they are looking for to provide more depth at the position after Randy Gregory's most recent suspension. He still has enough juice left to get after the QB. He managed to accumulate four quarterback sacks for the Arizona Cardinals last year, and accomplished that with very few opportunities behind Chandler Jones and Markus Golden.
Preston Smith is someone the Dallas Cowboys should be pretty familiar with in more ways than one. Not only has he played for their division rival, the Washington Redskins, for the past four years, but he was also a college teammate of Quarterback Dak Prescott's at Mississippi State. That kind of familiarity could end up bringing the two sides together this offseason.
Smith might not be as cost-effective as Benson Mayowa, but we all know you get what you pay for. He has accumulated 24.5 QB sacks in his career and would definitely be an upgrade, even though he's been an outside linebacker with the Redskins since entering the league. I personally believe he's better suited to play in a 4-3 defense and has the size to do just that (6'5", 265). There's also the added bonus of weakening an opponent while also strengthening yourself.
Cowboys Nation has been hoping for over a year now Kris Richard's ties to former Seattle Seahawks players would net the Dallas Cowboys Earl Thomas, but it could end up helping them replace Randy Gregory for the time being. Bruce Irvin was with the Seahawks the same time as Richard and that could help lure him to Dallas.
Irvin probably wouldn't break the bank due to his age (31), which in itself could make him an attractive option for the Cowboys. But, you throw in the fact that he's still more than capable of harassing opposing QBs and you've got yourself a player capable of making a difference on an already talented defense. He may just be a stopgap until Dallas finds a long-term solution, but he's an intriguing option nonetheless.
This is a little outside the box thinking since Anthony Barr has been an outside linebacker in the Minnesota Vikings 4-3 defensive scheme, but it wasn't that long ago Rod Marinelli was supposedly looking at him as a defensive end. If Marinelli still believes Barr is capable of putting his hand in the dirt as a DE, he could try to recruit him once again to the Dallas Cowboys.
Barr has the size (6'5", 255) to play DE with the Cowboys, but no one really knows what he is capable of if asked to be a full-time pass rusher. It would seem like a risky move because of the unknown, but at worst he could be a situational pass rusher and the replacement at outside linebacker for Damien Wilson. I'd be willing to take the gamble. He does have 13.5 career QB sacks after all as an OLB, so it's not that big of a stretch to think he could be successful as a DE.
Alex Okafor is a born and bred Texan who came right out of the heart of Dallas and could be looking to make his way home. He was a talented pass rusher with the Longhorns at the University of Texas and continued to be so in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals as an outside linebacker and once again with the New Orleans Saints as a defensive end. His versatility and productivity are definitely intriguing.
Okafor is yet another cost-effective option to replace Randy Gregory in Dallas. He's averaged at least four QB sacks the last two years with the Saints as mostly a backup/role player, and could do the same with the Cowboys. He's just 28 years old and should have more than enough left in the tank to contribute until a better option becomes available.
Any of these Randy Gregory replacements make sense for the Dallas Cowboys?
3 Things the Dallas Cowboys Need to do Against the Detroit Lions
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off yet another disappointing loss at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings. Their season and playoff hopes could be hanging in the balance now, which makes just about every game from here on out all that more important. They need to start playing as if their backs are against the wall, because that very well could be the case.
Luckily the Dallas Cowboys should be able to take care of business this week when they hit the road to take on the Detroit Lions. This is one of the more winnable games left on the Cowboys schedule this year and they should use it as a bit of a refresher game of sorts in order to get things back on track. The objective of course remains the same… Winning. But, this is also an opportunity to clean a few things up.
Let's take a look at a few things I think the Dallas Cowboys need to do against the Detroit Lions in this Week 11 matchup.
Hit the Ground Running
No more slow starts! The Dallas Cowboys have to hit the ground running against the Detroit Lions instead of digging themselves into an early hole like they've done quite a bit this season. I honestly don't care if it's on the arm of Quarterback Dak Prescott or on the legs of Running Back Ezekiel Elliott, the offense has to figure out some way to be the aggressor in order to put points on the board early.
The Dallas Cowboys fell behind early in nearly every single one of their losses this season. I don't think a single team has really outplayed them yet this year, but when they have to scratch and claw their way back to get out of the hole they've dug themselves into it makes it exceedingly more difficult to win. It's time to change that narrative this week against the Detroit Lions so that hopefully it carries over for the rest of the year.
Execute! Execute! Execute!
The second thing the Dallas Cowboys need to do this week against the Detroit Lions is to clean up their execution, especially in the defensive side of the ball. Offensively things are going pretty well for the Cowboys, but the same can't be said about their defense. Despite all the talent they've added this season they are still struggling to put everything together and play up to expectations. Hopefully this Week 11 matchup helps them right the ship.
This is a game the Dallas Cowboys should be able to focus on their execution. That means maintaining their gap integrity in the running game, staying assignment sound in the passing game, and most importantly finish the tackle. Tackling was especially poor last week against the Vikings which is why Dalvin Cook ran wild. This has to be a group effort here. Yes, individuals need to improve, but for the overall defense to play up to expectations they have to execute as a unit.
Establish the Running Game
Dak Prescott has been playing phenomenal these past few games and has proven he's more than capable of carrying the offense on his back, but the Dallas Cowboys still need to establish the running game. Just about everything Prescott does in the passing game is built off of play action. If the running game isn't producing that hurts the overall offensive output. Plus, the best way to control the game is by running the ball.
I think Ezekiel Elliott should have a pretty big game against the Detroit Lions this week. After being bottled up by the Vikings last week that should be news to the Cowboys ears. This offense feeds off of Zeke and it needs him to find his groove now that we're getting into the do or die part of the NFL season. No. 21 isn't the only RB who needs to find his groove though. Tony Pollard needs to start being more involved and what better game to get him going than against Detroit.
What do you think the Dallas Cowboys need to do against the Detroit Lions?
Lion Down: QB Matthew Stafford Ruled Out for Cowboys Game
The Detroit Lions will be without starting Quarterback Matthew Stafford this Sunday when they host the Dallas Cowboys. He has been officially ruled out due to fractures in his back; the second-straight game that Stafford will miss with the injury.
Fourth-year backup QB Jeff Driskel will get the start as he did last week against the Chicago Bears. The Lions lost that game 20-13, and Driskel went 1-4 as a starter last season when playing for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Stafford's status was confirmed this morning by Lions' Head Coach Matt Patricia.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford (back) has been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Cowboys
Losing Stafford could leave Detroit completely crippled on offense. While they have one of the league's top passing offenses so far in 2019, that was all Matt's work at QB. Now they are missing both their starting QB and their top running back, Kerryon Johnson, who went on injured reserve in Week 7.
That said, Detroit did put up 357 total offensive yards last week against the Bears with Driskel starting. Given the quality of Chicago's defense and that the Lions were playing on the road, that's a strong number.
It will be interesting to see how Dallas strategizes on defense after last week's loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys were completely run over by Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison, so will increased focus on run defense creates opportunities for Driskel and the Lions' receivers?
However it shakes out, Matthew Stafford's absence definitely helps the Cowboys. He is still one of the top quarterbacks in football and had a top-five passer rating before the injury.
We never root for injuries but such is life in the NFL. Sometimes you get the benefit, sometimes you're on the losing end.
Hopefully, this turn of fate helps Dallas get a much-needed victory.
#DALvsDET: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
Cowboys -3.5 O/U 51.5 points.
After suffering a devastating four point loss to the Vikings on Sunday night, the Cowboys will look to get back on track against yet another NFC North foe.
Dallas now sits at 5-4, clinging to their first place spot in the division with the Philadelphia Eagles right on their heels. They have fumbled away four very win-able games already this season, and are running out of chances to take full control of their playoff destiny.
You can't necessarily call this one a must win for the Cowboys, but it's damn near as close as it can get to one for a week 11 game. Considering Detroit's record and injuries, the Cowboys can ill afford to let this one slip away on Sunday.
It's one of the few games against a team with a losing record remaining on their schedule.
The 2019 Lions are a tough team to figure out. Expected before the season to be one of the worst teams in the conference, the Lions started out the season rather well.
They were "undefeated" (there was a tie) through the first three weeks of the season, and played the Kansas City Chiefs extremely tough. They also went on the road and had the Green Bay Packers on the ropes for four full quarters.
But, with all that being said, they now sit at 3-5-1, with their NFC playoff hopes just about destroyed. Quarterback Matt Stafford is having one of the best seasons of his entire career, however, and is surrounded by an offense littered with receiving talent. If he's healthy and can play, he'll be a handful for the Cowboys secondary to deal with.
- The Cowboys are now 2-4 against the spread their last 6 games.
- The score total has gone over in 5 of the Cowboys' last 6 games. It's also gone over 5 of their last 6 road games.
- The Lions are 1-4 against the spread their last 5 games.
- The score total has gone over 7 of the last 8 times these teams have played.
Despite being on the road this week, I'm going to pick the Dallas Cowboys to come out on top and cover the 3.5 point spread. At some point, talent has to take over for this bunch, and what a better day for that to happen than against a hobbled Detroit Lions team?
The Cowboys have been far from perfect in 2019, but it's now or never if they want to rack up wins and start a playoff run.
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