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Can This DE Solve The Cowboys’ Pass Rush Woes?

Brian Martin

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Can This DE Be The Answer To The Cowboys' Pass Rush Woes?

Ever since the Dallas Cowboys and DeMarcus Ware parted ways a few seasons ago, the defense has been one of the worst in the league at sacking opposing quarterbacks. The Cowboys' pass rush woes were made even more apparent in their divisional round loss of the 2016-17 playoffs at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

The Cowboys' pass rush has been a problem for several years now, which is probably why they tried to fix it by using a Band-Aid when they brought in the troubled DE, Greg Hardy. Hardy quickly burned his bridges in Dallas and hasn't received another opportunity to play in the NFL.

STRIKE ONE!

Dallas then decided to try to help their pass rush by drafting Randy Gregory, another troubled/talented defensive end. Gregory has spent more time suspended because of his drug-related problems than he has on the field for the Cowboys defense. This was a low risk/high reward situation, but was yet another failed attempt to improve the pass rush.

STRIKE TWO!

Luckily though, this is football and not baseball. The Dallas Cowboys are running out of strikes, but there are reasons to be optimistic with some of the players they currently have on their roster. It's unlikely they will be near the top of the league in QB sacks in 2017, but the DE position is getting younger and more athletic.

There are two defensive ends Dallas added to the roster this off-season who I think should improve the Cowboys' pass rush, Taco Charlton and Damontre Moore. Charlton has been talked about at length, which is understandable considering his draft pedigree. But, Moore is rarely mentioned and is an afterthought by most fans.

Yes, you read that right. I think the former Texas A&M Aggie, Damontre Moore, can make a difference in 2017. Even though he is an underdog to even make the final 53 man roster.

Damontre MooreDamontre Moore was drafted by the New York Giants in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. In his short time in the league, he has been a member of five different organizations. That doesn't usually bode well for his chance to make a difference, but knowing this could be his last opportunity could cause him to finally become the player many thought he would be coming out of A&M.

At 6'5", 250, Moore has a prototypical size and length to play either defensive end position in Rod Marinelli's 4-3 defensive scheme. But, that's not going to guarantee him a roster spot. In fact, there's not even much evidence to support my claim he will help the Cowboys' pass rush.

In just five seasons in the NFL, he only has 10 quarterback sacks under his belt and 5 1/2 of those came in 2014 as a member of the New York Giants. But, the talent is there. Maybe all he needs is the right motivator, a strong suit of Marinelli's. But, maybe he gets his motivation from returning to his hometown of Dallas and playing for his favorite team growing up.

I personally think #58 can help improve the Cowboys' pass rush in 2017, but only time will tell if I'm right or not.

All of this is really just a gut feeling. Or maybe I'm just grasping at air here and hoping Moore can finally reach his potential. Either way, someone has to step up, so why not the Da'Monster!

Do you think Damontre Moore can help the Cowboys' pass rush?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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7 Comments
  • DoubleCraven

    Not to mention he has a really bad attitude problem. Usually that bodes well for a defensive player, but he seems to direct his at his own team and coaches. Hopefully he can turn things around in Dallas, but its not likely.

    • Brian Martin

      He knows this could be his last chance to catch on with a team in the NFL. I think playing for his hometown team could make all the difference. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

      • DoubleCraven

        I hope your hope is correct.

  • Jesus Cruz Mayora

    Honestly, I don´t think he has the mental tools to be make a difference in the team, he will be a rotational guy at best, if any improve comes, will be a little bit each member, hopefully 5 or 6 DL members will be around 5 or 6 sacks each, none of them has the potential to be a double digit pass rusher, and the rest will be linebackers 5 or 6 all the LB, and 3 or 4 maybe the DB´s. that would sumarize around 40 plus.

    • Brian Martin

      The way Rod Marinelli likes to use his defensive lineman, just about everybody is a rotational guy. I think five or six QB sacks is what I would expect from Moore. That would help the pass rush, but they would need about the same from everybody else in order to improve in this area. It’s certainly doable.

  • Randy Martin

    Everybody loves a great story and the story of a guy like Moore turning things around and becoming the player he is capable of is a great story! I would certainly like to see that happen but when I look at the depth chart like you said “if he even makes the 53-man.” It will be a tall order and to make the roster he is going to have to have to be a great teammate and ride above the rest.

    • Brian Martin

      It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I think he’s up to it. He knows his time is running out and this might be his last chance.

Star Blog

How Should The Cowboys, And The NFL, Value RBs?

Kevin Brady

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Will Cowboys' Offense Improve With Ezekiel Elliott's Return?
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

There is no one, stand-alone "best" strategy for winning in the NFL. There are, of course, common themes and ideals which run true year in and year out among the top teams.

Strategy in the NFL is dynamic, or at least it should be. Running in place for too long under the same leadership often breeds mediocrity, and refusing to move with current trends can put you at a severe disadvantage.

Succumbing to those trends without fully analyzing the confounding factors your situation presents, however, can also ruin a team building exercise.

With that being said, should teams pay elite running backs top dollar? Or are those running backs expendable, replaceable, and often forgettable within the NFL machine?

To be honest these aren't very fair ways to pose legitimately interesting questions. You can acknowledge that a running back is important to your offense while also acknowledging that you don't want to break the bank for a position with such injury risk and high turnover year-to-year.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently facing this dilemma, as their star running back Le'Veon Bell asks to be paid like an elite "weapon," not as a normal running back. And when you examine how the Steelers deploy Bell within their offense, he clearly has a point.

Bell is not your traditional "running back." He lines up on the boundary, in the slot, and is a passing threat out of the backfield as well. On top of all of this versatility, Bell is an excellent pass protector, something which is often lost among other "versatile" backs.

Bell can quite literally do it all for an offense, but the idea of paying that position elite-level money makes teams cringe. As The Athletic's Marcus Mosher pointed out on Twitter, teams like the New England Patriots have been able to replicate Bell's production by using multiple speciality backs rather than one workhorse.

In theory, this takes away the injury risk component to a certain extent. Rather than giving one player 350-400 touches per season, you spread those touches out and allow for players to do what they do best.

Lately, the NFL has seemed to agree that this is the most efficient way to play offense. But when you have a player like Bell or Ezekiel Elliott, in what way is taking the ball out of their hands "efficient" at all? In addition, how is using three players to mimic the skill set of one efficient?

Yes, the NFL is a passing league, but when you have a playmaker who is of the caliber of a Bell or an Elliott, it is up to the offense to deploy in him ways that maximize his value. Teams should be using the Bells and Elliotts of the world as pass catching threats and as weapons all over the field. Force the entire defense to account for your running back rather than just jamming him between the tackles like it's 1975.

The movement towards "running back by committee" rather than the traditional one-back system can also be credited to the lack of workhorse-worthy backs entering the league.

Ezekiel Elliotts don't grow on trees, they are rare and special players. And when you have one, especially when you spend a premium pick on him, you should get the most out of him that you can. Playing winning offense in the NFL is about more than just "do you run or do you pass," and it often hinges on creating splash plays of 15-20 yards.

If you can get those plays through the use of an elite running back, that player becomes intrinsically valuable to your team. No matter what "position" he is labeled as. Of course you want to be able create mismatches in the passing game all over the field, so when you are able to do this with a running back, shouldn't that be deemed as highly valuable?

We can't say just yet if the Cowboys should re-sign Ezekiel Elliott once he enters free agency. After all, five seasons (and a franchise tag year) where he touches the ball more than most players in the league will almost certainly bring about some wear and tear.

But with the way the Cowboys have chosen to play offense, and the way in which they've built their roster, a workhorse back like Elliott is necessary for success.

Once again, at least it is for now.



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Star Blog

Is DE Kony Ealy At Risk Of Not Making Cowboys Final Roster?

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: As Late FA Signing, New DE Kony Ealy Brings Value at DE

As training camp approaches and we draw closer to the 2018 NFL season, fans are beginning to get excited for new faces, old stars, and new beginnings for the Dallas Cowboys.

One player which has been a bit forgotten about over the last few months, and even overlooked when he was first signed back in April, is defensive end Kony Ealy. Of course, some of this overlooking is justified, as Ealy's career has been filled with more valleys than peaks thus far.

With a fresh start in Dallas, though, some expect Kony Ealy to rekindle his career, and look like the player he was during the Panthers' Super Bowl 50 loss just a few seasons ago. The problem is, that game looks like the outlier and not the norm over his professional career.

Originally drafted by the Carolina Panthers, Ealy has had a shaky start to his career. Now joining his third team in the same number of seasons, it's certainly fair to say he hasn't lived up to his second round draft selection.

At 6'4" and 275 pounds, however, Ealy fits the mold of a 4-3 defensive end in the Cowboys' scheme. While he isn't the explosive pass rusher that other players on the roster are (and can be), he could provide solid rotational depth across the defensive line.

With fellow former second round pick Randy Gregory gaining reinstatement to the NFL this week, Ealy could struggle to salvage any real playing time with the Cowboys at all. Gregory, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, and Taco Charlton all feel like locks to make the team.

Then there is 2018 day three pick Dorance Armstrong and former fourth round pick Charles Tapper providing competition as well.

Tapper and Armstrong are unproven, but have the athletic profiles to become solid edge rushers at the professional level. For both, especially Tapper, health is of the upmost concern going forward. If Tapper can remain healthy, he has a real shot of making the team and having his impact felt as early as 2018.

That "if" has been a serious one thus far, however.

When the Cowboys first signed Kony Ealy back in April, I really believed he could provide solid and cheap depth along their defensive line. Now in July, I still have those beliefs, but it's become fair to question if he will even find himself on the final 53-man roster based on the competition around him.



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Star Blog

Can Connor Williams Follow in Zack Martin’s Footsteps?

Brian Martin

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Can Connor Williams Follow in Zack Martin's Footsteps?

Connor Williams has yet to play a single snap the NFL, but there are already some pretty high expectations for the rookie Guard. That's because he will be sandwiched between two Pro Bowl players in Center Travis Frederick and Left Tackle Tyron Smith. But, it's the Dallas Cowboys third Pro Bowl offensive lineman Williams should try to emulate and follow in the footsteps of.

Yes, I'm talking about Zack Martin.

Zack Martin's career couldn't have gotten off to a better start coming out of Notre Dame. He hit the ground running as a rookie with the Cowboys and put together a dominating performance his first year in the NFL, earning his first Pro Bowl bid as well as being named to the All-Pro team. He continued to play at a high level ever since and has not only turned into the best player at his position, but continued his Pro Bowl streak every season since entering the league.

To ask, or even expect Connor Williams to have the same kind of immediate success as Zack Martin is probably a little unfair, if not impossible. The kind of success Martin has had already in his career is almost unheard of. But, that's not to say Williams isn't going to try to follow in Martin's footsteps and to become the best player he can.

Zack Martin

Dallas Cowboys OG Zack Martin

The footsteps I think Connor Williams should try to follow as it pertains to Zack Martin is how well he made the transition from a collegiate Offensive Tackle to an NFL Guard. I think that should be Williams' main focus right now with training camp coming up.

Williams will be inserted into the starting lineup as the Cowboys new Left Guard. It will be a new position for him after playing mainly Tackle at the University of Texas, that will require an entirely new mindset and technique. But, it's in transition I believe he can make rather smoothly.

Connor Williams should benefit from Zack Martin's similar transition from college OT to an NFL OG. I wouldn't be surprised if we see the rookie shadowing Martin throughout training camp to soak up as much knowledge as possible. It's probably the best way for him to jumpstart his career.

Now, I fully expect to see some growing pains from Williams throughout the 2018 season. It's to be expected from any rookie, especially one transitioning to a new position. But, I do believe he will not only be an upgrade at LG for the Cowboys, but will make the entire OL even better.

I don't know about you, but I'm excited to see what kind of player Connor Williams ends up being this season.

Do you think Connor Williams can follow in Zack Martin's footsteps?



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