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Cowboys DL David Irving: Molding A Masterpiece (Film Review)

Kevin Brady

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David Irving

Earlier this week it was reported that Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving was to serve a four game suspension for violating the league's PED rules.

Meaning, Irving is set to miss the Cowboys first four games of 2017, including the pivotal season opener against the division rival New York Giants. Still, a four game suspension isn't the end of the world, especially considering the circumstances surrounding this particular offense.

Whether the suspension holds or not after Irving's appeal, he will still be available for most of the 2017 season. A season in which a large portion of Cowboys Nation expects he will "break out."

Even SB Nation's Stephen White labeled David Irving the Cowboys' candidate to have that break out season earlier in the offseason, likening in him to rookie defensive lineman Malik McDowell.

The point of this elongated introduction is tell you, I expect big things out of David Irving this season, once he is available to play. At 6'7" and about 270 pounds, Irving is a physical freak along the defensive line.

Though many have called his play in 2016 inconsistent, I would argue he simply did not see enough snaps during most of the season. Over the final three games, Irving's most productive stretch of the year, he played in 82.2% of the Cowboys' defensive snaps (courtesy of All 22). Un-ironically, he recorded three sacks and was all over the field during that time.

david irving TB 2 - Streamable

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Besides his incredible length, Irving's most redeeming quality is arguably his power/strength. His best performance of the season came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which he all-of-a-sudden looked like the reincarnation of the late great Reggie White.

Despite not having too great of a get-off here, he and Maliek Collins work their offensive counterparts straight into the backfield. While Collins hits the guard with a quick head fake and spin move, Irving simply runs right over the offensive tackle.

Considering his incredibly lengthy arms and overall upper body strength, the tackle stands no chance once Irving gets hand-on first. The tackle also tries to jump-set Irving a bit, as his normal kick-sets had been getting him bull rushed into oblivion the last few possessions. Irving tosses him like a rag-doll, however, and gets to the quarterback.

david irving TB - Streamable

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Irving absolutely abused the Bucs' offensive line all game long. Here, with the Cowboys defense backed up in the red zone, Irving comes through with a spectacular play.

Lined up as the strong-side 3-technique, Irving cocks his body pre-snap straight into b-gap. He could almost be considered a 4I based off his somewhat wide-alignment alone. The Bucs try to run a backside zone play, in which their left guard is responsible for linebacker Justin Durant.

When zone blocking, you never turn backwards. You step playside, and move upwards/laterally to secure your track. Given that Irving is in a 3-technique, he is responsibility of the left tackle, and the guard does not give any help.

This turns out to be a big mistake.

David Irving comes off the ball with excellent burst and aggression, and beats the tackle right from the snap. He also does a great job of breaking the tackle's hands off of his body, giving him no chance through his alignment and power.

david irving GB 2 - Streamable

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Even when David Irving is blocked, he can still impact plays. Against the Packers here, another one of Irving's "flashy" games, he rushes the right guard from a 3-technique. Though he gets stoned and blocked rather soundly, Irving's height and length allow him to stick his hands into the air and affect the passing lanes.

Though the deflection only results in an incompletion this time, there is always the chance that one of these tipped balls will result in an interception and a game-changing play.

Of course, you can't expect Irving to simply dominate offensive tackles like that on every snap, or even on the majority of snaps. But, the fact of the matter is, his flashes of greatness have been too inconsistent.

His suspension really isn't a big deal, especially considering he will play 12 of their 16 regular season games.

But, it isn't no problem either. Irving is a raw chess piece in many of the technical areas of his game. He has the body type, the strength, and can straight up play football. But he needs to work with defensive coaches Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett to mold his raw abilities and become a fine-tuned quarterback killing machine.

My prediction?

David Irving is going to have a very good season in 2017. And when the Cowboys go with their classic 3-2-6 look, an Irving/Collins/Taco threesome on the defensive line looks pretty good if you ask me.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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Should Cowboys Consider Trading for Disgruntled Packers S Josh Jones?

Brian Martin

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Should Cowboys Consider Trading for Disgruntled Packers S Josh Jones?

Despite their insistence that upgrading the safety position was a top offseason priority, the Dallas Cowboys haven't really done much to improve the backend of their secondary. They did sign former Minnesota Vikings and Cincinnati Bengals Safety George Iloka as a free agent and drafted Donovan Wilson in the sixth-round in this year's NFL Draft, but neither player looks like a clear-cut upgrade at this point. Fortunately, there's still time to find Xavier Woods' counterpart for 2019.

Xavier Woods is the only clear-cut starter at safety currently on the Dallas Cowboys roster. Other than that, your guess is as good as mine as to who starts opposite him this season. With that in mind, the Cowboys should be keeping all of their options open, including acquiring players who get released or even making a trade for someone they like. The latter is what I want to talk about today.

A potential safety who could be put on the trade block that I'm kind of intrigued with is Josh Jones, who has reportedly requested a trade from the Green Bay Packers.

Rob Demovsky on Twitter

Packers safety Josh Jones is skipping the voluntary OTAs and working out in Florida because he's hoping to be traded, a source told ESPN. The source said the 2017 second-round pick believes it would be best for both parties if they parted ways. Story coming on ESPN shortly.

Josh Jones clearly sees where he stands with the Green Bay Packers after they signed Adrian Amos in free agency and drafted Darnell Savage Jr. 21st overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, thus his absence from OTA's and trade request. He understands the business and knows he's not going to see the field much behind those two, meaning his best chance for playing time would be in a different uniform.

Josh Jones, Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers S Josh Jones

It's not all that shocking Jones has requested a trade. Even before the Packers added Amos and Savage he wasn't receiving a lot of playing time. He's just never seemed to fit into what Green Bay was trying to do on the backend of their defense. It may be in the best interest of both parties to mutually part ways. This is where the Dallas Cowboys come in.

I believe Josh Jones is exactly the type of safety Kris Richard would like to pair Xavier Woods with on the backend of the Cowboys defense. He fits the criteria Richard likes in his defensive backs as far as size, length, and speed are concerned. And, he also has the kind of skill set/mindset to become that Kam Chancellor "enforcer" type of strong safety.

Josh Jones is at his best when he can play around the line of scrimmage, much like Chancellor was during his time with the Seahawks. But, Jones also has the ability to be a factor in coverage as well. The only real question here is whether or not he's an upgrade over the likes of Jeff Heath, George Iloka, and maybe even rookie Donovan Wilson?

In all honesty, I don't have the answer to that question. Josh Jones really hasn't received a fair opportunity to prove himself in his first two years in the NFL. I believe the skill set is there to start in the league, but there's not much there to back up that belief.

Personally, I'd be willing to part way with a late round pick if I were the Cowboys to acquire Josh Jones. I like the idea of bringing him in to work with Kris Richard and allowing him to compete for the starting job next to Xavier Woods. This is exactly the kind of low risk/high reward move Dallas likes to gamble on, and it could potentially pay off in a big way.

Where do you stand? Should the Cowboys consider trading for Josh Jones?



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How Can The Cowboys Force More Turnovers In 2019?

Kevin Brady

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Ranking The Dallas Cowboys Rookies Through Week 8
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

2018 seemed like the beginning of a new era. A defensive era. For the first time in years the Cowboys were able to consistently lean on their defense during games, staying alive even as their offense sputtered and limped through stretches early in the season.

The defense was downright prolific some weeks. They carried the Cowboys to an inspiring home victory over the New Orleans Saints to put them in prime position to make the playoffs. They dominated the Wild Card game in key moments, making key stops and holding the Seahawks to just 22 points in the win. They featured one of the league's best individual pass rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence, an All Pro cornerback in Byron Jones, and one of the league's most exciting young linebacker duos.

For all of this success, this defense still lacked one thing. Takeaways.

The Cowboys forced only 9 interceptions in 2018, ranking 26th across the league. In fact, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was actually tied with Xavier Woods for the team lead in interceptions with just 2. When it comes to total takeaways the Cowboys' defense was a little better off, though, finishing 16th in the NFL.

Part of the "problem" seems to be their philosophy. The Cowboys have finished 26th, 24th, 27th, and 31st in interceptions dating back to 2015. They've also finished 9th, 25th, 18th, and 19th in team defense DVOA over that same stretch. Clearly there was an improvement in total defense in 2018, but neither their team defense nor ability to take the ball away has been strong since 2015.

The bigger problem, really, is a lack of luck. While this sounds like a cop-out, takeaways often do come down to just that. Of course putting yourself in the right place at the right time to benefit from a batted pass or overthrown ball matters, but those bounces finding the right hands is usually a matter of luck.

Anthony Brown's Resurgence A Great Sign for Cowboys Defense

Nov 30, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (30) returns an interception against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Turnovers are incredibly volatile year to year, and as much as you'd like your players to "make their own luck," randomness does play a part here.

You can certainly argue the Cowboys have done their best this offseason to increase their chances at takeaways, however. By trading for defensive end Robert Quinn, re-signing DeMarcus Lawrence, and adding talented players to the middle of their defensive line as well, Dallas has put an emphasis on getting after the quarterback and corralling the opposing running game. Putting pressure on quarterbacks can force them into quick decision making or bad throws, which could in turn breed interceptions.

This is far from guaranteed, though. Plus the Cowboys play against some of the league's top quarterbacks this year, which hurts their chances of taking the ball away further.

In the end the Cowboys will need both the skill of their pass rushers and defensive backs to put them in good positions, and luck to smile down on them, if they'd like to turn around their takeaway numbers in 2019. And after all, this demoralizing trend has to reverse itself at some point, doesn't it?



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Will It Be The Cowboys, Or Another Team, Who Pays Byron Jones After 2019?

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines -  81

After having his fifth year option exercised for the 2019 season, cornerback Byron Jones enters a contract year this Fall.

Jones inarguably had the best year of his career in 2018: earning not only his first Pro Bowl selection but also Second Team All Pro honors for his performance. Doing it all without an impressive stat sheet, Jones was able to let his film speak for itself throughout most of the year, and he became the number one cornerback we'd all hoped he could be when the Cowboys decided to take the freakishly athletic defensive back in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

This contract year is quite unique for Byron Jones, however. Next offseason the Cowboys will be forced to re-sign and extend just about all of their key contributors on both sides of the ball. DeMarcus Lawrence already got his contract, but Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and others still await their deals. Deals which the front office has all-but explicitly promised will come.

This leaves Jones, the former first round pick and now former All Pro, generally considered to be the odd man out. So while 2019 is a contract year for Byron Jones, he may be earning himself a contract from a completely different team.

Jones has had an interesting road to this contract season. One which would be a shame for the Cowboys to waste. Moving between cornerback and safety during the first three years of his career, Jones fell out of the coaches' good graces while playing out of his most natural position. Under Kris Richard's new regime, though, Jones had his best season to date. He looked to finally be comfortable in his role, and was now playing for a coach who believed he could be a special player.

Now that Byron Jones has found his place in the Cowboys defense, and has earned his way into conversations with the league's top cornerbacks, he's likely priced himself out of the Cowboys' future plans.

It's funny how that works out. Of course, Jones should go get paid, and I'd never fault a guy for maximizing his value on the market. But there's a good chance the Cowboys make the mistake of allowing a premier cornerback to walk out of their building next offseason. But if they want to retain players like Elliott and Cooper, they may not have any other choice.



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