Connect with us

Star Blog

Cowboys Defense: “Star” Needed in the Middle

John Williams



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.

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

  • 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

QB Dak Prescott Continues To Come Through In Clutch Situations

Kevin Brady



Dak Prescott Continues To Be Money In Clutch Si

Dak Prescott is possibly the most criticized quarterback in all of football.

Of course, this comes with the territory of being the Cowboys starting quarterback, but each throw Prescott attempts is placed under an intense microscope, even by NFL standards. We analyze every snap of every game, looking to find where Dak was right or wrong with this reads.

There's no question, though, that Prescott has been inconsistent throughout his young career. Week to week, drive to drive, and even play to play, we seemingly have no gauge on just how Dak Prescott will perform.

One scenario where we can say with confidence he will come through, however, is when it matters most. Last Sunday, in yet another must-win game for the Dallas Cowboys, Prescott orchestrated a game winning drive to lead his team over the favored Atlanta Falcons.

The Cowboys offense was pedestrian for much of the afternoon, but when Prescott got the ball in a tied game, I felt confident he would give Brett Maher a chance to win the game. Even on the road, and even after the offense had struggled a bit through the air all day.

Prescott got the ball late in the fourth quarter, looking to answer former NFL MVP Matt Ryan's game tying touchdown strike to Julio Jones. Dak went for it all on the first play, looking for Michael Gallup deep down the sideline, but the ball fell incomplete. After that throw, Prescott went 4/5 for 45 yards, including a huge completion to Cole Beasley, putting Dallas in game winning field goal range.

This confidence in Dak Prescott is justified, as is shown by his numbers in late game situations. Prescott now has 12 game winning drives, tying him for the league lead over the last three seasons. For comparison sake, Eagles starter Carson Wentz has just 3 game winning drives over that same stretch.

Overall the box score shows a rather quiet day for Prescott, but it was exactly the kind of Sunday they need from him. He completed over 60% of his passes, ran for a touchdown, and avoided the key turnover which could have sung this close game.

He played efficient football, and gave the Cowboys a chance to win it late. Then, he did what he does best, making plays in clutch situations and coming through in the 2 minute drill.

For all of Dak Prescott's flaws, those end-of-half and end-of-game situations have been a clear strength for the young quarterback, and continued to be this week.

Continue Reading

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez



Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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!

Continue Reading

Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady



Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.

Continue Reading

Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here