Defense wins championships. A saying all too familiar in the sport of football. The star power for the Dallas Cowboys may be on the offensive side of the ball, but the defense is what will take them to the next level. Coming off a season in which they finished as the 7th ranked unit overall, 2019 is looking very positive defensively.
The big boys up front are where it all begins and games are won and lost.
DeMarcus Lawrence has established himself as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. Racking up 25 sacks over the last two seasons, more than Khalil Mack and Von Miller, the 105 million dollar man is the cornerstone of the Cowboys defensive line. Drawing constant double teams allows his teammates in the trenches to take advantage of one-on-one opportunities pretty frequently. His own elite play combined with making life easier for others is a high plus.
Robert Quinn will be lined up opposite Lawrence. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro during his days with the Rams from 2011 to 2017, where he totaled 62.5 sacks. Coming off a 6.5 sack season in Miami, Quinn makes the defensive end position a major strength of the Cowboys. Him playing at or even close to an elite level gives this defense multiple threats coming off the edge, which can't be undervalued.
Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong, Kerry Hyder, Tyrone Crawford, Joe Jackson, Jalen Jelks, and Taco Charlton will all be in the mix for playing time at defensive end. The more bodies you have at your disposal the greater your chances are of having success.
The interior is where quarterbacks hate getting pressured from the most. The Cowboys have a few bullets in the chamber to attack from the inside.
Antwaun Woods is your starter and anchor at the 1 technique (left of center). The big man made his presence known in 2018 as a very good run stopper, as evident by the Cowboys fifth overall ranking in that category. There are only 18 games of NFL tread on these tires so you can expect plenty more out of Woods going forward.
Trysten Hill has the inside track to be the man at the 3 technique (right of center). The rookie will have to take his lumps of course, but the ceiling for his talent is unlimited. Even with the safety position being at the top of the team's needs going into 2019, they selected Hill in the second round. You can bet the 273 rushing yards allowed by the Cowboys in the playoffs against the Rams had something to do with his draft card being turned in, it starts up front.
Maliek Collins, Daniel Ross, and Christian Covington give the interior nice depth going into the new season, but don't expect them to make life easy for the guys in front of them.
The linebackers make up your second line of defense, and the Cowboys have as good of a stable as anyone league-wide.
Jaylon Smith is your starter at middle linebacker. 2018 saw him rack up 121 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. Big, strong, fast, and great awareness, he has it all. Sideline to sideline he's one of the best in the game and he's just getting started.
Leighton Vander Esch blew the doors off of AT&T Stadium in 2018. While his first-round selection was much maligned by fans and experts, it didn't last very long. He would finish with 140 tackles (team record for rookies), 7 passes defended and 2 interceptions in 11 starts. Good enough to garner Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in his first year of action. The weakside linebacker position is in good hands.
Sean Lee is switching roles and moving over to strongside linebacker. This will work wonders for him and his body this season. Why? The Cowboys run mostly out of the nickel package, with two linebackers, those will be Smith and Vander Esch. Now, Lee doesn't have to take the pounding he normally would playing either the middle or weakside positions. With limited snaps, and hopefully health, 2019 could see a rejuvenation of the career of one of the best linebackers in football.
Joe Thomas, Justin March-Lillard and Chris Covington are a few names to watch on the depth chart at linebacker as well.
In today's NFL, you better have good players on the back end of your defense. Heading into the new season, the Cowboys aren't doing too bad in that department.
Byron Jones is coming off his best season in the NFL. The former Connecticut Huskie set a career high with 14 passes defended in 2018, as well as his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections. The switch from safety to corner has worked wonders for him, he's a lock as a starter at corner.
Opposite him is Chido Awuzie. The former second-round pick firmly established himself last season as the other starter at corner. Increasing his tackle numbers from 25 to 71, and his passes defended from 7 to 11 from his rookie year in 2017.
At nickel corner, Anthony Brown currently holds the top spot, but that's not set in stone just yet. Rookie Michael Jackson is already impressing during the offseason program. Plus, you can't forget Jourdan Lewis, who will be essentially fighting for his spot on the team.
C.J. Goodwin, Donovan Olumba, and Chris Westry make up the remaining bodies at the corner position looking to earn their way on the field.
Xavier Woods has the free safety spot in a choke hold. His high motor and ability to separate receivers from the ball are making a lot of teams look foolish passing on him for the first five rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jeff Heath currently is the starter at strong safety, much to the dismay of most of the fan base, but that's not a given. George Iloka was brought in during free agency to push for a starting role. Also, rookie Donovan Wilson and Kavon Frazier will be in the mix, a very interesting battle going into training camp.
Darian Thompson, Jameill Showers, Kyle Quiero, and Treston DeCoud round out the depth chart at safety.
Experience, depth, and youth are all on the defensive side of the ball in Dallas. There are established All-Pro level talents on multiple levels of this defense. They were a top 7 unit last season, and that's before certain pieces were added in the draft and free agency. All the ingredients are there, now all Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard have to do is whip up this top 5 defensive gumbo and lead the Cowboys back to the playoffs in 2019.
Report: Cowboys’ WR Amari Cooper Expected to Practice Friday
Per Todd Archer from ESPN, Amari Cooper's MRI didn't reveal any structural damage in his knee and was diagnosed with a bruised knee. Cooper's now expected to practice on Friday as the Dallas Cowboys get ready to play the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football.
Amari Cooper is expected to practice Friday and play Sunday against Minnesota after an MRI revealed he has a bruised knee, according to a source. Cooper was examined by the team doctors on Thursday and did not practice after being listed as a limited... https://t.co/jNps7m7ThL
This is excellent news for the Dallas Cowboys. Since acquiring Cooper from the Oakland Raiders last year, his presence has made a huge difference. There's been a noticeable difference when Cooper hasn't been in the lineup and they can't replicate his ability on the field in the slightest. He changes everything for Dak Prescott and the passing game.
Cooper's been dealing with minor injuries since training camp and has had to miss time in some games, sitting out nearly all of the loss to the Jets. Getting Cooper back the next week against the Philadelphia Eagles had a huge impact on the outcome of the week seven game. While Michael Gallup's taken a huge step forward in 2019, he hasn't proven to be capable of flying solo as the lead receiver for the Dallas Cowboys.
Against the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys offense will need to get off to a hot start and click on all cylinders against the Vikings number four ranked defense.
Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper have had an excellent connection in Cooper's now 17 games with the Dallas Cowboys. He's averaging 5.6 receptions for 83.9 yards and 0.7 touchdowns per game. His per 16 game average would be 89 receptions for 1,342 yards and 11 touchdowns. Those are elite numbers in a really good passing game.
The Minnesota Vikings pass defense is only allowing 225 passing yards per game. Against the likes of Julio Jones, Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Allen Robinson, Alshon Jeffrey, Marvin Jones, and Tyreek Hill the Vikings have allowed 8.42 receptions for 93.85 and seven touchdowns.
Against the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, and Kansas City Chiefs in three of the last four weeks the Vikings have allowed 291.3 passing yards per game.
Amari Cooper and the Dallas Cowboys passing game could be in for a field day.
Each week, following Amari Cooper's injury status, is one of the most important reports. Getting good news on Cooper heading into the Cowboys final practice of the week on Friday is big news for the Cowboys in this huge NFC matchup.
Report: Cowboys DT Daniel Ross Arrested in Frisco on Marijuana and Gun Charges
This is definitely not the news the Dallas Cowboys wanted to hear. According to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys Defensive Tackle Daniel Ross was arrested earlier this morning in Frisco on marijuana and gun charges.
Frisco PD confirms backup DL Daniel Ross was arrested by Frisco Police Department this morning. He was charged with Possession of Marijuana and Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon.
Ross appeared in 13 games in 2018 as a solid depth piece along the defensive front. He totaled 14 tackles, seven quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, one sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
This was good enough for the Cowboys to sign Ross to a one-year deal worth 645,000 back in March. Unfortunately, he suffered a shoulder injury in late August that put him on injured reserve, ending his 2019 season.
You can bet some disciplinary action will be taken by the NFL on this matter as well as internally with the organization. Ross is set to be a restricted free agent in 2020.
Report: Cowboys S Xavier Woods Named NFC Defensive Player Of The Week
The Dallas Cowboys picked up a big division win Monday night vs the New York Giants and today one of their most important defensive players was recognized for his performance.
According to Patrik Walker of CBS Sports, Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods has been named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Xavier Woods is the Week 9 #NFL Defensive Player of the Week. #Cowboys #ThroughTheWoods Hive.
Woods had four tackles, a pass defended, a forced fumble, and an interception. With the Cowboys down 12-10 just before halftime, Woods intercepted Daniel Jones returning it 29 yards to set up a Brett Maher field goal making it 13-12 heading into the third quarter.
Halfway through the third quarter, the Giants were driving to take the lead when Woods struck again and forced a fumble that was recovered at midfield which set up another Maher field goal. He was responsible for two turnovers that lead to points for the offense, which is exactly what you want to see.
The Cowboys will need Woods to play big again this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings who have the NFL's eighth-ranked offense.
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