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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Report: Amari Cooper Likely out for the Rest of the Preseason

Matthew Lenix

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Report: Amari Cooper Likely out Until Week 1

Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari Cooper is likely out for the remainder of the preseason according to ESPN's Todd Archer. He is currently dealing with a form of plantar fasciitis that has kept him out of practice since August 6th.

The three-time pro bowler changed life in Dallas last season as the team went 7-2 in it's final nine games after he was acquired to win the NFC East. Cooper isn't worried about any long term effects, though, as this is something he's familiar with.

"I'm not worried about it at all, because I know if it does linger, it doesn't matter," Cooper said. "I had 1,000 yards when I played on plantar fasciitis before."


The Cowboys host the Houston Texans this Saturday in what is known as the "dress rehearsal" game before the regular season. Starters normally play about a half of football to get the juices flowing for when games really count in September. Ideally, the plan would be for Cooper and Dak Prescott to get a rhythm of sorts before the season starts but that will have to wait until the team prepares to take on the New York Giants on September 8th.

However, the good thing here is this issue doesn't seem to be serious and Cooper will be ready for the start of the 2019 season.


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Report: Cowboys Agree To Contract Extension With LB Jaylon Smith

Kevin Brady

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Jaylon Smith, Eagles

The Cowboys are neck-deep in contract negotiations with some of their team's most important players, but it appears they have gotten one key guy signed this afternoon.

ESPN's Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, though the exact terms of the contract have yet to be announced.

Todd Archer on Twitter

The Cowboys have agreed to a contract extension with linebacker Jaylon Smith, according to sources. Smith was set to be a restricted free agent after this season but the Cowboys and his representatives started talks in the spring and they ramped up once camp began. Smith, a...

Of course, the Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith early in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft despite the horrific leg injury he suffered in Notre Dame's college bowl game. Some didn't think Smith would ever recover to be the same player he once was, but in 2018 Smith emerged as an excellent middle linebacker once again. Smith finished the 2018 season with 121 combined tackles and 4 sacks, and has looked just as imposing thus far in the preseason.


Smith regained his athleticism and sideline to sideline speed, while retaining his impressive hit power and sound tackling to become one of the league's best. Combining Smith with Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have put together arguably the best linebacker group in the NFL.

And now, there's no end in sight for the dynamic duo.


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Report: 2 Dallas Cowboys to be Activated off of P.U.P. List

John Williams

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Per a report from ESPN's Todd Archer, the Dallas Cowboys will soon activate Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence off of the Physically Unable to Perform (P.U.P.) List.

"The Cowboys are planning to activate defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday, according to a source. They will work through individual drills in their first steps on the field before going through full practices. Lawrence had shoulder surgery not long after signing a five-year, $101 million contract in April. Crawford has been working his way through a hip issue that kept him out of the offseason program. Safety Byron Jones (hip) and receiver Noah Brown (knee) remain on PUP."

Todd Archer - ESPN.com

This report comes after DeMarcus Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery in April and signed his five-year deal making him the highest-paid player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, at least for now. It looks as if Lawrence will be ready for a week one return.

It's long been believed that Lawrence would be available for week one of the regular season and hasn't suffered any setbacks to this point that should lead you to believe otherwise. With Robert Quinn suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Randy Gregory's status still up in the air (he still hasn't applied for reinstatement), getting Lawrence and Crawford back for the first two weeks of the season becomes instrumental.


The Dallas Cowboys defensive line has looked really good through the first two games of the preseason, but as good as they've been, they'll need Lawrence and Crawford once the regular season starts. Lawrence will slot back in as the left defensive end and Tyrone Crawford will split snaps at right defensive end with Dorance Armstrong and 3-technique defensive tackle with Maliek Collins, Trysten Hill, and Kerry Hyder.

While the additions of DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford will help the defense tremendously, there still isn't a timeline on the return of Pro Bowl Cornerback Byron Jones. Jones has been out since having hip surgery this offseason.

With as good as the Dallas Cowboys defense has looked this offseason, there's reason to believe that they can be even better once each of these guys are back in the lineup full-time. For a defense that was one of the 10 best defenses in the NFL in 2019, they'll need Lawrence, Crawford, and Jones to make the jump into the elite stratosphere of NFL defenses.

With the Dallas Cowboys' eyes set on capturing that sixth Lombardi Trophy, getting Lawrence and Crawford back in time to be ready for the regular season is vital to starting the 2019 season off right.


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