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’ Travis Frederick Ready for Start of Training Camp
With the Dallas Cowboys opening training camp with their first practice on Saturday, July 27th in Oxnard, California, a lot of information is coming out regarding who will be available when they report.
It was already reported that Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will be placed on the physically unable to practice (P.U.P.) list to start training camp. Now, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is reporting that Travis Frederick will avoid the Non-Football Injury list (NFI) and be ready to report for the starting of training camp.
Very good news for the #Cowboys: All-Pro C Travis Frederick, who dealt with Guillain-Barré syndrome last year, is expected to be active for the start of training camp. He avoids NFI and is ready to go.
Frederick has been out of action for a year after being diagnosed with Guillen-Barre Syndrome during last year's training camp. Guillen-Barre is a disorder that can affect the peripheral neurological system. Basically, the neurological system that doesn't consist of the brain and the spinal cord, which is the central nervous system.
There was talk that Frederick might have been ready to go for the playoffs at the end of last season, but the team continued to hold him out in order to get him back 100% for 2019. It looks like the time has come for Frederick to regain his spot as the leader and lynch-pin of the offensive line.
While Joe Looney was effective in 2018, there's no doubt the team suffered a drop off from All-Pro Travis Frederick to career backup Looney. Getting Frederick back in the middle of the offensive line is the most significant upgrade the Dallas Cowboys could have made this offseason on either side of the football.
Frederick is one of the smartest players on the team and does a lot for Dak Prescott and the offensive line in terms of setting protections. For Dak Prescott, he'll be able to have a little more faith that the front of his pocket will hold up if he needs to step up to make a throw. Frederick will also help Connor Williams as the two work combo blocks against opposing interior defenders. Frederick will immediately improve the Dallas Cowboys red zone offense as they'll be able to get more of a push on the interior.
It was almost expected that this would be the case, but hearing it for certain should give the Dallas Cowboys and their fans a lot of optimism for what's to come in 2019. Travis Frederick returning to the starting lineup is a huge addition for a Dallas Cowboys offense that looks ready to roll in 2019.
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence and CB Byron Jones to Start 2019 Camp on PUP
The Dallas Cowboys will be missing two of their defensive leaders when they open 2019 training camp this Saturday. Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence and Cornerback Byron Jones will both start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List as they recover from offseason surgeries.
Lawrence, who got a new five-year contract in April, immediately underwent shoulder surgery once his deal was finalized. DeMarcus reportedly was waiting for contract negotiations to be completed before he had the procedure.
Jones had hip surgery in late May. He is playing 2019 on the fifth-year option from his original contract, and is no doubt hoping for his own long-term extension sometime in the near future.
Sources: DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones will open Cowboys camp on PUP and won't practice in California https://t.co/jzWV5FjBO6 via @sportsdaydfw
Neither Lawrence or Jones, who are both coming of Pro Bowl seasons in 2018, are expected to be absent once the regular season starts in September. But either participating in this year's training camp is doubtful, and even preseason appearances are in question right now.
With DeMarcus out at DE, newcomers like Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder will get plenty of chances to show their stuff. It's also a nice opportunity for Taco Charlton, assuming he's recovered from his own offseason surgery, to get some work against the first-team offensive line.
No Byron at CB will give Jourdan Lewis a nice opportunity to work with the starters as well. He was likely stuck at the 4th spot behind Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown but should now get more time on the field and against the best competition.
Breaking News: Allen Hurns Released
The Dallas Cowboys are releasing Wide Receiver Allen Hurns after just one season with the team according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Cowboys releasing WR Allen Hurns, per source.
Hurns was brought in as a possible replacement for Dez Bryant considering they had a similar skill set, but that never quite worked out. He only managed 20 receptions for 295 yards and 2 touchdowns in 7 starts. He's coming off a horrific leg injury suffered in the Cowboys playoff win against the Seahawks last season.
This saves the Cowboys 5 million in cap space putting them around 24 million overall heading into the 2019 season currently. This now opens up snaps for some of the younger receivers on the Cowboys roster.
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