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Cowboys Defense: “Star” Needed in the Middle

John Williams

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A Star is Needed in the Middle of the Dallas Defensive Line 1

If there was one thing clear about the 2017 Dallas Cowboys, it's that there was a glaring hole in the middle of their defensive line. Good against the run in some games, they got downright gashed in others, and overall left many in Cowboys Nation feeling like the team needs to upgrade in the middle of the defensive line.

While they were eighth in the league in total rushing yards allowed, they were middle of the pack in yards per carry (4.1), and first downs allowed by run (14th in the NFL). If there's an area where they can afford to improve or add depth, it's at the 1-technique defensive tackle position, which is similar to a nose tackle in a 3-4.

In 2017, the Dallas Cowboys used Maliek Collins as the 1-tech defensive tackle.

That's the guy who lines up over the center and is responsible for eating up blockers, allowing the linebackers to roam free. Collins, along with others, did a serviceable job there. But I think most would agree Collins is best suited as a 3-technique tackle, the position played by David Irving.

A Star is Needed in the Middle of the Dallas Defensive Line

Carolina Panthers DT Star Lotulelei

Enter Star Lotulelei, defensive tackle and free agent to be, who has played the last five seasons for the Carolina Panthers. While he's mentioned that he'd like to return to the Panthers, he sounds ready to test the free agent waters.

At 6-foot-2 and 315 pounds, Lotulelei is the guy you want in the middle taking up would-be blockers, and allowing Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith (and Anthony Hitchens?) room to run to the ball carrier.

He isn't a guy who plays all three downs for you, like David Irving. He'll be a guy who makes teams think about running the ball on first and second down, and will help you tremendously in short yardage situations.

Former Carolina Panthers and newly appointed General Manager for the New York Giants, David Gettleman thought enough of Lotulelei to use the first rounder's fifth-year option to bring him back for 2017. His 2017 wasn't stellar, if you just look at the stat book, as he only racked up six solo tackles with 19 assisted, according to Pro Football Reference.

His 1.56 combined tackles per game are a career low, and while that may not be a good thing, it could mean that the Dallas Cowboys could get him at a discount. And, as we know, the Dallas Cowboys' front office loves to bargain hunt more than the guys on Storage Wars.

The Dallas Cowboys will look to fill team needs before the draft, which allows them the freedom to stick to their board and not reach for a position based on perceived need.

There will be a market out there for Star, but The Star would be wise to pursue him prior to the draft.



I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

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7 Comments
  • Kevin Black

    I’d rather see the Cowboys use one of their fourth round picks to move up and get Vita Vea.

    • John Williams

      There’s a good chance they won’t have to move up in the draft to get Vea and even if they sign Lotulelei, it won’t preclude them from drafting a DT in the first, if he’s the best player available on their board.

  • Travis Diggs

    It’s not gonna be worth the money he’s asking. And o yeah his brother is in the draft and might be better than him

    • John Williams

      Hearing work ethic issues on the brother the last couple of years. I don’t think he’s going to be able to command a lot of money on the market because he’s coming off a down year statistically.

      Fits the mold of a Cowboys free agent signing.

  • Ervinlang318

    All of these Articles are pointless. We will continue to…

    1. Draft someone that NO ONE has on their Board.
    2. We will draft the LB of our dreams (Disclaimer: He will have blown an ACL or Achilles his Junior Year of course )
    3. Our Defense will consist of Ex Home Depot employees and Former Bengals, Browns players who last appeared in the League in 2015 and started 4 games that year.

    • John Williams

      There’s always at least a 10% turnover in the roster from one season to the next. They go into free agency trying to sign veterans who can fill a need. There will be player movement.

  • Ervinlang318

    We’re not signing anybody

Star Blog

Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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DeMarcus Lawrence, Franchise Tags and Realities for Dallas Cowboys
Matthew Emmons / USA TODAY Sports

The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.

The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.

All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?

Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.

In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.

That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.

Are Dallas Cowboys Building A Championship Defense? 1

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.

So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.

Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.

It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.

According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.

Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.

Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.

Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?

Tell me what you think about "Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?" 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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Star Blog

Without Looming Suspension, RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Shine In 2018

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys en Español: 3

NFL Films typically does a good job of exposing some truths around NFL teams. Whether through "Hard Knocks" or Amazon's new "All or Nothing" series, these documentaries do an excellent job of giving fans an inside look of their favorite teams.

If anything was revealed through the Cowboys' All or Nothing series on their 2017 season, it's that Ezekiel Elliott's suspension weighed heavy on his mind all year.

The Pro Bowl running back did not look, act, or play like himself while awaiting decision on his incoming suspension. And, once it was finally announced he would serve the six games, the entire team collapsed in Atlanta.

Despite the clear and detrimental effects Elliott's suspension had on the Cowboys' season, Zeke still put up more-than-respectable numbers; rushing for almost 1,000 yards and averaging a league leading 98.3 yards per game.

Now, Ezekiel Elliott enters a season with no doubts about his own availability. Scott Linehan gets to coach an offense that knows they will have their best player for the entire season barring major injury. And, Jason Garrett can lead his team without addressing questions about Elliott's future day in and day out.What Workload is Ezekiel Elliott Prepared for in 2018? 1

Of course, these effects aren't quantifiable. We can't sit here and say that without the pressure of court appearances and suspensions that Elliott will be worth "X" amount of more yards and "Y" more touchdowns.

But I do believe we can say, without question, that playing with a clear mind and without a looming suspension will breed the type of production we saw from Zeke his rookie year.

We can say that Elliott has had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and could be looking for revenge on a league he feels did him wrong.

And, for the Cowboys sake, I hope this is true. Because they are going to need Ezekiel Elliott to be even better than he ever has been if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2018.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Randy Gregory, Eagles
Eric Hartline / USA TODAY Sports

A sólo días de que los Dallas Cowboys aterricen en Oxnard, California para dar inicio a su training camp como todos los años, el equipo recibió excelentes noticias respecto a la selección de segunda ronda del 2015: Randy Gregory. Después de pasar todo el 2017 suspendido, el ala defensiva ha sido oficialmente reintegrado por la NFL.

Gregory, quien tuvo muchos problemas debido al uso de marihuana, ha pasado los últimos meses rehabilitándose para poder volver a vestir la estrella y volver al emparrillado. Los Cowboys, quienes siempre apoyaron a su joven jugador, sin duda estarán felices de verlo de vuelta en el equipo por motivos más allá que el football americano.

Sin duda alguna, antes de estar emocionados y felices por verlo en el campo intimidando a quarterbacks rivales, deberíamos estar alegres por el logro personal de Randy como un ser humano. Realmente hizo un esfuerzo consciente en un lugar en el que muchos se hubieran rendido y dejado sus sueños de ser parte de la NFL. Pero no lo hizo, y ahora, todos sus esfuerzos han valido la pena.

El siguiente paso en su lista por-hacer, es volver al campo y poco a poco, ganarse su puesto en el equipo y después, la titularidad. La última vez que vimos a Gregory en el campo, fue contra Philadelphia, en el final de temporada del 2016.

En este juego, Gregory mostró muchos destellos de lo que sería capaz de hacer semana tras semana en la liga y porque valió la pena nunca dejarlo ir, lo cual no hubiera tenido sentido hacer, dado que los Cowboys no les costaba nada (literalmente) mantenerlo en el equipo.

Sean Martin escribió un artículo recientemente en el que analiza este partido a fondo.

El potencial de Gregory es inmenso, suficiente incluso, para aventurarse a decir que se convertirá en el defensive end (ala defensiva) derecho antes de lo esperado. El reto más grande para el jugador de 25 años será regresar a una condición física óptima para la NFL.

Afortunadamente, a diferencia del 2016, Gregory no estará regresando a media temporada. Su llegada toma lugar justo a tiempo para el training camp, dándole tiempo para regresar a la forma en la que tiene que estar.

Una vez ahí, ¿qué tanto le tomará ganarse un rol más importante que el de Tyrone Crawford y Taco Charlton? A pesar de que prácticamente no lo hemos visto jugar en Dallas, sabemos el potencial que tiene para convertirse en un defensivo de suma importancia para los Cowboys.

Un año después de ver la mejor temporada en la carrera de DeMarcus Lawrence, los Cowboys tendrán el potencial de una estrella similar en el lado derecho de su línea defensiva. Gregory tiene una montaña que escalar para cumplir las expectativas de los aficionados, pero no será una sorpresa si lo logra.

Vaya, no olvidemos que si no fuera por sus problemas fuera del campo, hubiera sido seleccionado en el Top 10 del Draft del 2015. Tiene el potencial de conseguir diez sacks por temporada.

Con un poco de suerte, no nos equivocaremos en tenerle fe al jugador que ha tenido un gran viaje para llegar a este punto. El punto de ponerse el casco e ir a trabajar con su equipo.

Incluso si sólo llega a ser un jugador de rotación, sin duda será importante para el éxito del equipo. Entre DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory y el resto del talento que los Cowboys tienen en la línea defensiva, el equipo podría tener un frente de muy buena calidad.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory" 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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