As you probably know by now the Dallas Cowboys suffered yet another embarrassing loss on Thursday, this time to the Los Angeles Chargers. The 28-6 home loss dropped Dallas to 5-6, and probably brought an end to any serious postseason hopes they might’ve had.
While the offense has clearly been stagnant, and both the linebackers and secondary are under-performing, one unit which had seemed to find their groove is also having a rough go-of-it as of late.
That group is the defensive ends specifically, as well as the defensive line as a whole.
Just a few weeks ago the Cowboys boasted two of the most feared pass rushers in the league in DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving. However, after their fast starts, neither has recorded a sack over the past two losses.
Despite this statistic, both players have been rather disruptive at times, and Lawrence has continued to draw increased attention from opposing offenses. While the Eagles did a nice job of using Irving’s upfield tendencies against him, both he and Lawrence have also made their presence felt against the run.
The problem has been the rest of the defensive linemen. As Irving and Lawrence get that attention, players like Tyrone Crawford and Maliek Collins need to step up and play to their potential.
Instead, this pass rush has faltered during these three blow-out losses. Last week Phillip Rivers carved up the Cowboys secondary all game, and did so with virtually all day to throw in the pocket. When Dallas started blitzing Rivers, he simply exploited the man coverage on the outside.
The interior defensive line has been really bad lately as well. Without Sean Lee to cover up for their mistakes in the run game, Maliek Collins has been getting exposed as a 1-technique. I still like him as a pass rushing 3-technique, but if Irving is going to be used in that role it becomes fair to question what exactly Collins’ role will be going forward.
He simply isn’t a run-stuffing 1-technique, and his inability to stay strong inside has hurt the Dallas run defense week after week. Bringing in someone who can fill this role, if the Cowboys do stick with Rod Marinelli and his 4-man front, will be important this offseason.
If the Cowboys want to get back to playing competitive football over these final five games, their defensive line is going to have to step up in a big way. It remains to be seen if they are capable of doing so.