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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence’s League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Sean Martin

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

The Dallas Cowboys defensive line, expecting to add Defensive Tackle David Irving back into the rotation this week, faces a favorable match up against a Houston Texans offense that's allowed 17 sacks this season. Second only to Buffalo, the Cowboys will be relying on their defense once again on Sunday night, led by DeMarcus Lawrence at left defensive end.

Lawrence's 5.5 sacks through four games leads the NFL, as the Cowboys franchise-tagged pass rusher has picked up where he left off from a 14.5 sack performance in 2017.

Ahead of a pivotal game for the 2-2 Cowboys in prime time against 1-3 Houston, now felt like a great time to break down Lawrence's effectiveness getting to the quarterback this season.

Tank1

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Lawrence has been masterful in his own technique as always, but so too has been the execution from veteran Tyrone Crawford alongside him. Lining up at the 3T-DT position despite preparing to play DE this season, Crawford has played with great quickness and burst to make the Cowboys twist game a staple up front.

Getting to Cam Newton here in the Cowboys season opener, watch as Crawford knocks the right guard off-balance almost instantly before executing this T/E stunt to the outside. While the right tackle does a good job dealing first with Lawrence and then Crawford, it doesn't take long for Tank to make quick work of the guard and power his way into Newton.

Lawerence's commitment to rushing with power to the inside has taken his game to an elite level, making him one of the most unpredictable rushers in the league thanks to his added edge ability - seen in the next clip against the Lions.

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Lawrence was able to get to Matthew Stafford three times in the Cowboys most recent win, doing so cleanly here with a win off the corner. Catching the right tackle leaning to the outside just slightly, Lawrence takes advantage off the line to capture the edge while chopping his blocker's hands to finish the rush.

Notice the tackle's hand placement up high on the shoulder of Lawrence as he bends the corner, allowing him to continue directly into the path of Stafford. Defeating blocks in this way has become a signature of Lawrence's game, and his closing speed to finish around the quarterback is  yet another thing he does at an incredibly high level.

Tank6

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This next sack of Stafford is a fantastic effort from Lawrence. Again attacking the right guard with Crawford twisting to the outside, the Lions OL does a much better job handling this action.

Once the guard is able to disengage from Crawford, he's in good position to deal with a charging Lawrence. What Tank does so well here is recognize this early as he cuts to the inside, knowing immediately how he wants to attack the guard. Setting him up further to the inside, Lawrence again uses his chop move to disengage and counter back to the inside.

The speed at which Lawrence executes this move gives him as clear of a path as he'll have to any QB. Coming out of it with his usual balance and burst, Lawrence is on top of Stafford before the Lions' right guard has even turned around from off the turf.

Tank5

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Here is another win from Lawrence off the strong side edge. Though he's forced behind the pocket further than he'd like, Lawrence never gives up on his rush to get back to Stafford. His ability to record a third sack in this game is really set up by the slight diversion of his path around the corner.

By turning just slightly towards the inside on this arc, Lawrence gains leverage once engaging the tackle. Forcing the blocker's hands to his inside shoulder again, Lawrence is free to rip under the block and chase down another sack.

Tank2

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It's not just the Cowboys secondary that's benefited from the addition of Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard. Leading a more aggressive, blitzing defense, it's Anthony Brown from his cornerback position that helps Lawrence get to Eli Manning here.

Running the same twist with Crawford, Lawrence catches the guard preoccupied with Tyrone as Saquon Barkley sprints to pickup Brown crashing on the blitz. This was Lawrence's cleanest sack of the season, and a shot you'll never see him miss.

Tank3

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Last but surely not least, here is Lawrence's sack of Russell Wilson in Seattle. The Seahawks did a good job managing the Cowboys pass rush despite their OL issues in this game by balancing their rushing attack. On this occasion though, Lawrence is left to running back Mike Davis lined up tight.

All Davis manages to do is push Lawrence across the face of the right tackle, who's left in terrible position to deal with him shooting the gap. Doing so while managing to "pick through the trash", Lawrence arrives with a blitzing Sean Lee to sack Wilson.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

When the Cowboys used the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence this offseason, they wanted him to prove he can string together consecutive dominant seasons at defensive end. Four games hardly makes a season for Lawrence, but it's been so far so good for all of the "Hot Boyz" as Lawrence leads the way with 5.5 sacks.

The battle for the Governor's Cup on Sunday Night Football is likely to be decided in the trenches. The Texans may have household names in J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, but the Cowboys will rightfully take Lawerence's level of play over anyone right now - needing him to be a disruptive force against Deshaun Watson.

Tell us what you think about "Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence’s League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Harold Ellerbee

    October 9, 2018 at 7:55 am

    Poor D.L.on the Dallas defence he has no help they are going to get him hurt unless some one elce starts to in prove…perhaps David Irving can help turn the tide….he may be the piece that starts this defence going forward,but if not I’m afraid the Dallas defence will fail in 2018.

  2. Harold Ellerbee

    October 9, 2018 at 8:06 am

    Now to the matter of the O.L. line of Dallas …Jerry quick get another big piece of beef to help this line still needs a lot of help…the loss of travis f is more than you thought…

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Report: Free Agent DL David Irving Not in Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

The Dallas Cowboys and troubled Defensive Lineman David Irving appear to be at an impasse. According to a report from David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, the team has "no intention" of trying to re-sign Irving and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Irving started the 2018 season with a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He only appeared in two games after that, registering one sack and four tackles.

David Moore on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have no intention of keeping DT David Irving at this time https://t.co/vqMNZty6Aq via @sportsdaydfw

Despite reports of David's ongoing issues with an ankle injury, Dallas never placed him on injured reserve. Then came the reports that Irving was missing practices and team meetings while dealing with personal issues related to the custody of his daughter.

The team stayed pretty mum on the subject of Irving's status throughout the year, falling back on the ankle injury when pushed. But after months, it became clear that either David, the team, or both parties were disinterested in his return to football.

The Cowboys had high hopes after 2017, when Irving posted seven sacks in just eight games. They placed a second-round tender on him last offseason as a restricted free agent and were surely ready to give him a long-term deal if he'd built on that success.

But David's issues, physical or otherwise, have clearly done the opposite.

Dallas is known for working with troubled players, as we've recently seen with Randy Gregory. That they're closing the book on Irving suggests there's an issue with his desire towards football.

It's a sad loss for both. David's potential is enormous, as evidenced by his productivity when he actually does play. But he appears more likely to hit the Commissioner's exempt list in 2019 than the football field, given the reports of multiple failed drug tests over the last year.

Hopefully David Irving can turn things around one day and capitalize on his talent. But if it ever happens, it appears that it won't be with the Dallas Cowboys.



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BREAKING: WR Terrance Williams Gets Dropped by Dallas Cowboys

Jess Haynie

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Takeaway Tuesday: What We Learned From Cowboys Loss To Packers
AP Photo/Ron Jenkins

The Dallas Cowboys have ended their six-year relationship with Wide Receiver Terrance Williams. According to multiple sources, they have declined a team option on Williams' contract and he will now be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

The move will reportedly save the Cowboys $2.25 million in salary space this year.

Williams was the team's third-round pick in 2013 and started 68 of the 83 games he played in. He developed into a solid number-two receiver by the end of his rookie deal in 2016 and was given a new four-year contract that offseason.

David Moore on Twitter

Terrance Williams career w/ the Cowboys is done. Sources say the club has declined the WR's option for 2019, making him a free agent. The move is no surprise. He caught just 2 passes for 18 yards last season. His departure frees up $2.25 million on the cap.

After another decent year in 2017, things took a bad turn for Terrance last season. It started with an offseason arrest for public intoxication that eventually led to a three-game suspension, although Williams served that while on injured reserve.

The Cowboys already appeared to be giving Williams' spot away when they made several offseason acquisitions at WR; Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin all were brought in even before Terrance's arrest.

While Williams did start in two of Dallas' first three games in 2018, he only had three passes his thrown his way. The team finally put him on IR due to ongoing complications with a surgically-repaired foot.

While it didn't end well, Terrance Williams' time in Dallas was ultimately a solid return for a third-round pick. He made a few big plays and was a proficient run-blocker, good enough to start in almost 75% of the team's games since he was drafted.

The Cowboys now hope that another third-round pick, Michael Gallup in 2018, will do bigger and better things.



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A Lot Had to Happen for Amari Cooper to Join the Cowboys

John Williams

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Amari Cooper

Amari Cooper was a game changing player from the moment he showed up at The Star in Frisco, Texas. In the first game against the Tennessee Titans, you could just tell that this was a different kind of player. The Cowboys hadn't had a wide receiver with his mixture of size and skill.

Cooper to me showed off the brilliant route running of Cole Beasley, in a body similar to Dez Bryant. Oh, and with 4.4 speed.

Electric.

But Amari Cooper's presence with the Dallas Cowboys may not have happened in 2018 if any one of a number of dominoes didn't fall during the 2018 offseason and regular season.

Shunned by Sammy

Early in the free agency period, it was reported that the Dallas Cowboys had brought in Sammy Watkins and made him a lucrative offer that would have paid him around $16 million per year, but as Patrik Walker from 247 Sports discussed, he ultimately signed with the Kansas City Chiefs for more guaranteed money.

I recall first the feeling of dread when I heard about the pursuit of Sammy Watkins, immediately followed by relief when I saw that he signed with the Chiefs. I was in the midst of a government mandated internet blackout.

Don't get me wrong, Sammy Watkins is a fine player, but he isn't a $16 million per year player. Aside from his athleticism and size he doesn't really bring much to the table. He was pretty much a younger, and similarly injury prone -- at their respective points in their careers -- as Dez Bryant.

In 2018, Watkins only played in 10 games for the Chiefs and barely passed the 500 yard mark while catching only three touchdowns. Now, he's not the top priority in the Chiefs passing game, but he's not a player that can be relied upon to lead an offense.

Had the Cowboys signed Watkins last offseason, it's highly unlikely that they would have traded a 2019 first round draft pick to add another wide receiver in Amari Cooper.

Dez Bryant Goes Bye-Bye

The next thing that happened that may not have, was the release of long-time Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant. Dez Bryant had been with the team since 2010, when the team made him their first round pick that season. After post really good numbers from 2012-2014, Dez had a drop off in production, mostly due to injuries in the 2015-2017 seasons.

Dez Bryant, a fan favorite, was a player that relied upon his superior athletic ability, physicality, toughness, and ability to get passes in the air that made him special. Injuries to his legs and feet started to rob him of his athletic ability. Combine that with the fact that he and Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott could never really get on the same page when it came to fade routes, traditional or of the back shoulder variety.

Had the Cowboys not made the decision to move on from Bryant, the Cowboys offense would have probably been better the first seven games of the season. They may not have necessitated allocating a first round pick to acquire Cooper and it's possible he gets traded somewhere else or stays in Oakland altogether.

Poor Starts to the Season

The Oakland Raiders went into the 2018 season having made a lot of noise by signing Jon Gruden out of the broadcast booth and trading Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears. After a 1-5 start to their season, the fire sale continued as they put Amari Cooper on the trade block.

The Dallas Cowboys started the season 3-4, but looked much worse on offense than what we could have anticipated. We knew they would take a bit of a step back in the passing game as they were trying to work in new faces, but it was bad for the first seven, and really eight weeks of the season.

The Cowboys went into the season with a plan to use their wide receiver group as a committee to try and fill their needs with several players of varying skill sets. Sounds good in theory, but in practice it was a debacle. Receivers not named Cole Beasley, struggled to get open and the offense was listless through the first two months of the season.

Had either team been better than they were to start the season, the chance of a trade taking place would have been small. Teams like to think they can get by with what they have. Had the Cowboys been 4-3 instead of 3-4, they may have thought they could get by with Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, and Michael Gallup as their lead receivers.

Trade Compensation

It was rumored that prior to the Dallas Cowboys sending their 2019 first round pick to the Oakland Raiders that the Philadelphia Eagles offered a second. The Raiders, who were looking to stock pile picks to rebuild, held out for the first they desired for their former 2x Pro Bowler.

Had the Raiders took the Eagles offer as the best offer on the table at the time, the Cowboys would have missed out on Cooper and likely missed out on the division and the playoffs in 2018. On the flip side, we know how much the Cowboys value their draft picks. We've seen them pass on game changing player who would have cost much less because they value their draft picks and believe in their ability to find difference makers in any round.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

The Dallas Cowboys were really fortunate to end up with Amari Cooper. If any of the above things goes differently, it's extremely unlikely that he's wearing a Cowboys uniform in 2018 at all. Now, coming off a 1,000 yard season -- in only 15 games -- and a Pro Bowl appearance, Cooper is set to get paid some big money by the Dallas Cowboys front office. As they get ready to pay Cooper upwards of $16 million a year or more, they should have only one thought on their mind for the good fortune that brought Cooper to Dallas;

Thankfulness. 



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