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Cowboys At Vikings: This Cowboy Had His Best Game Of 2016

Kevin Brady

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Demarcus Lawrence, Vikings

Though the offense had their worst performance of the entire season, the Cowboys defense rose to the occasion on Thursday night and had their best.

In particular, the Cowboys defensive line caused more havoc than they have all year long. This occurred in part because of how weak the Vikings offensive line is, of course, but Cowboys rushmen playing to their best ability also played a part.

For my money, DeMarcus Lawrence was the best defensive lineman for the Cowboys last Thursday. Even though he failed to record a sack, Lawrence had several successful rushes against Vikings tackle TJ Clemmings, and hit quarterback Sam Bradford multiple times.

Let's take a look at the film to see where Lawrence was good, and where he was bad during the Cowboys win over Minnesota.

The Good

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On the Vikings first offensive possession, DeMarcus Lawrence makes his presence felt immediately. Working on left tackle Clemmings, Lawrence breaks his hands quickly, and swims around him. This quick swim move keeps Clemmings off balance, and allows D-Law to get a hit on Bradford.

While Lawrence does execute a nice rush on this play, I think the hit has more to do with the ineptitude of Clemmings, who is leaning forward and gets next-to-no punch on DeMarcus.

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On the very next play, Lawrence hits Clemmings with a spin move and wins once again. After setting the tackle up with the outside swim the play before, Lawrence comes back inside after faking outside, and gets by the tackle on a nice rush.

Unfortunately, Lawrence's spin move is just a tad too slow, a problem which will rear its head again later in the game.

Side note: I hate cover 2.

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On his 2nd quarterback hit of the evening, Lawrence once again shows the ability to break the tackle's hands, and get around the edge to create pressure. What I really love about this rush is Lawrence's bend around the corner.

Too often, his bend has been too awkward or nonexistent this year, but he shows good burst and bend on this rush, and delivers a solid hit on Bradford.

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Clemmings leans, Lawrence wins: the story of week 13, 2016.

Say what you will about the competition, but DeMarcus sensing the deficiencies of his opponent and using those negatives against him is certainly a cause for enthusiasm over the young pass rusher.

He knew that Clemmings is bad with his hands, he knew that Clemmings has the tendency to lean forward and lacks a punch. He then used this knowledge to his advantage and developed a plan to win on each and every rush.

DeMarcus Lawrence rarely looked lost on plays, he took every step and made every move with a purpose. It is because of that, that he was able to create pressure and cause havoc in the Vikings backfield all game long.

The Bad

Are you feeling good about his performance yet? Feeling like DeMarcus can carry this over into next week and get after Eli Manning? Okay, now let's take a look at the bad from Thursday night.

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Earlier I mentioned how Lawrence showed good burst and bend at times against the Vikings. This is not one of those times.

Lawrence tries to break Clemmings' hands and get around the edge like he had multiple times during the game. This time, however, Clemmings stays patient and uses Lawrence's momentum against him.

Lawrence is unable to bend around the edge, and gets shoved onto the ground and disposed of quickly.

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Remember earlier I mentioned that Lawrence seemed sure on most of his rushes, which helped him win on multiple snaps?

Once again, this is not one of those times.

DeMarcus is slow out the gate, and then seems unsure of himself when trying a spin move on Clemmings. Once again staying patient and avoiding leaning too far ahead, Clemmings is able to force Lawrence into no-mans' land.

Lawrence's spin move needs some work, as was evident all game long, but his uncertainty from the snap of the ball is alarming on this play.

All in all, Lawrence played a pretty solid game. As I've said, though, the competition (or lack thereof) which he was facing certainly has to be considered when evaluating his play. The key for DeMarcus Lawrence, and the entire Cowboys defense, will be to string together a few of these solid performances, creating some momentum heading into the playoffs.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

Dallas Cowboys

Jimmy Johnson Could Be Next Cowboys Ring of Honor Inductee

Jess Haynie

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Auto Draft 4
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

According to reports, former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jimmy Johnson may finally be joining the team's Ring of Honor.

Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram reported this morning, per a source, that Johnson could be among the next group of inductees to the franchise's version of the Hall of Fame.

The other potential candidates mentioned were former scouting guru Gil Brandt from the Tom Landry era and Tight End Jay Novacek, who won three Super Bowls in Dallas in the 1990s.

Novacek would join Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Charles Haley, and Darren Woodson as Ring of Honor members acquired during Jimmy Johnson's brief but historic run as Cowboys coach.

It is that heavy presence of Johnson's players in the Ring, not to mention the three championships that crew won from 1992-1995, that has long merited Jimmy's inclusion in the Cowboys' most exclusive club.

Jimmy was only personally on had for two of three titles, but even that ties him with Tom Landry for Super Bowl wins in Cowboys history. And as many would argue, that 1995 championship team was still running on what Johnson put together.

Jimmy Johnson Could Be Next Cowboys Ring of Honor Inductee

Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones

Jimmy's place among the Cowboys' greatest contributors is irrefutable. But whether he'd ever get into the Ring of Honor has always been questioned due to his contentious breakup with team Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones.

Johnson left the Cowboys after the 1993 championship season as he and Jones could no longer have a working relationship. Jerry's bitterness over the credit that Jimmy got for building the 90s dynasty, and Jimmy's refusal to pass any of that along to his Jones, led to Johnson's resignation as egos drove a wedge between friends.

Time appears to have healed the wounds, for the most part. As pictured above, Jimmy was in attendance for Jerry's 2017 Hall of Fame induction and public comments between them have become far more cordial in recent years.

At ages 75 and 74, respectively, Jerry and Jimmy should close this book while they still can. There is no better way to do than by Johnson taking his rightful place in the Ring of Honor.

Not only will that move bring a resolution to their story, but it will also help Jimmy in his pursuit of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to be recognized on the team level.

Jimmy Johnson belongs with Troy, Emmitt, Playmaker, and the rest who he brought together. He was responsible for the most successful era of Dallas Cowboys football in the team's history. He also provided the catchphrase that has endured for almost 30 years now, "how 'bout 'dem Cowboys?"

You can't tell the story of the Dallas Cowboys without Jimmy Johnson. It's time to give his chapter a happy ending.



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Dallas Cowboys

Which Cowboys Benefit From David Irving’s Suspension?

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

While losing David Irving for the first four weeks of 2018 is a bad thing for the Dallas Cowboys defensive line, it does create opportunities for some of the other defensive tackles. Who has the most to gain from Irving's suspension?

Because he was mostly going to be used inside as the 3-technique DT, David's absence will naturally benefit the guys who are best suited to play that role. Thankfully, Dallas isn't lacking for those types of players.

Veteran Tyrone Crawford can use all the playing time he can get. As a likely salary cap casualty next year, Crawford doesn't want to get buried on the depth chart as Dallas focuses on their younger players who project to stick around beyond 2018.

With Irving out, Dallas will likely lean on Tyrone as they often do when someone is missing on the defensive line. With more talent now at defensive end, Crawford was going to be competing with Irving, Maliek Collins, Jihad Ward, and other younger guys for work at tackle.

But now there's a problem, and it's easy to slide Crawford into the 3-tech role that Dallas once envisioned him being a star at. Remember, it was their projection of Tyrone as a breakout DT that got him his big contract to begin with.

Yes, Irving's only gone for four weeks. Dallas will still be giving him work in camp based on the role he should fill for the majority of the season. But that's why a veteran like Tyrone Crawford is a great temporary plug-in, because he doesn't need all of the practice reps to step in and perform.

Maliek Collins

Dallas Cowboys DT Maliek Collins

Another key beneficiary could be third-year DT Maliek Collins. Last season, Collins got stuck playing 1-technique and not getting the same opportunities to make plays and get noticed that he had his rookie year.

But now Dallas has several guys in Jihad Ward, Richard Ash, and Brian Price who can play the 1-tech role, which will hopefully get Collins back where he belongs. Maliek's athleticism belongs a little further away from center, letting him try to take on guards in single coverage.

Collins is dealing with a foot issue now but should be back for the preseason. That's enough time for him to be where he needs to be Week One, provided he's healthy.

How Dallas would balance playing time between Collins and Tyrone Crawford could be a matter of how much they play certain schemes. One could see Collins, the bigger guy, playing more in the base defense and then Crawford being used in passing situations.

There is always a lot of rotation in a Rod Marinelli line, so discussions about playing time can get a little silly. Unless you're a true stud like DeMarcus Lawrence who you don't want to take off the field, the Cowboys like to keep guys fresh.

But that's why this is a big opportunity; David Irving has that stud potential. He's the kind of talent who could keep solid players like Crawford and Collins out of view if he hits his stride.

For the first four weeks, though, Irving will be in the NFL doghouse and Dallas will likely lean on its two most experienced defensive tackles to fill the void. There will be more reps for guys like Datone Jones and Jihad Ward too, but Crawford and Collins have way more skins on the wall

That trust should keep them on the field more while David Irving's suspended, and perhaps beyond.



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Player News

BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year

Mauricio Rodriguez

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David Irving

For the second consecutive year, Defensive Lineman David Irving is being suspended for four games by the NFL. This time, the suspension comes after Irving violated the NFL's policy on substance of abuses, as Ian Rapoport reported.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Cowboys DL David Irving is being suspended 4 games for violating @NFL policy on substance of abuses, sources say. Another big-time D-linemen hit with a suspension for Dallas.

Irving will play for the Dallas Cowboys after the team placed a second-round tender on him earlier in the year. Why no team was interested in picking such a talented defensive tackle for a second round pick is becoming clearer and clearer as the time goes on.

In April, when David Irving got hacked by his former girlfriend one of the tweets that stood out the most was one which said "Wait until you all find about his failed drug tests." Now, we're seeing what the tweet was about.

Irving is a very talented player that could have a great career ahead of him. Of course, with this being the second consecutive year in which he receives a suspension to start the season, one could question how much he wants it.

The Cowboys will play the Panthers, Giants, Seahawks and Lions to start the season. They'll have to do it with one of their most promising defensive players in David Irving.

Here at Inside The Star, we'll keep you updated with this story and every Dallas Cowboys news.

Tell me what you think about "BREAKING: David Irving Suspended For 2nd Consecutive Year" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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