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Cowboys DT Depth a Bright Spot in Loss to Broncos, More Help on the Way for D-Line

The NFL regular season is one of parity, and it took until week nine of the new 17 game schedule for many of the top teams to realize this. The Dallas Cowboys lost for the first time since week one, allowing a season high 190 rushing yards at home to a Broncos team that held a 30-0 lead well into the fourth quarter.

Instead of the Cowboys playing from ahead against offenses looking to match and their usual high point outputs, the Broncos controlled this game from the start and were never discouraged from running right at Dallas.

This is something the Cowboys will have to quickly dispel as a long-term flaw that opponents can expose. Looking beyond the box score from this game should give the staff and players hope the defensive lapses will be fixable as soon as the enter on Sunday.

Against a historically bad Cowboys defense last season, the Falcons scored 39 points in an improbable loss the Cowboys stole as one of just two wins Dak Prescott captained before his .

Cowboys DT Depth A Bright Spot in Loss to Broncos, More Help on the Way for DL

It's no coincidence the Cowboys allowed over 100 rushing yards for the third straight game in their second game without DT . Signed as a run-stuffing nose , Urban filled this role well before being placed on IR with a triceps injury following the Patriots game.

Urban was averaging close to 40% of the team's snaps in 's defense, leaving the rest to and Carlos Watkins. Both tackles played their season high in snaps against the Broncos, with Watkins recording a sack.

Though the Cowboys missed Urban's ability to create upfield movement as he takes on blocks, Hamilton and Watkins help up well on the interior. The Cowboys inability to finish tackles or rally to the ball was the most glaring issue in run defense, something HC addressed early in the week.

This rotation at the 1T position also allowed rookie to play another strong game in , where the Cowboys were consistently frustrated by Teddy Bridgewater's ability to extend plays. Quinn will have a decision to make on the outlook at DT in the coming weeks when it comes to playing the run vs. getting after the QB. and could factor into the Cowboys rush along with at a later date.

Scheming against his former team this week, Quinn has already proved this season the patented Cover 3 defense he implemented in Seattle and Atlanta is much more flexible now. One constant has been a strong interior pass rush, which the Cowboys can favor by simply getting their firing again.

Players like Hamilton, Watkins, and even rookie will still be needed on early downs to stop the run. When Quinn can force opponents into obvious throwing situations, his pass rush personnel becomes much more versatile. Rookie ' best reps against the Broncos came as a rusher, but Denver attacked and Leighton Vander Esch at the second level for consistent gains.

Cowboys DT Depth A Bright Spot in Loss to Broncos, More Help on the Way for DL 2
Dallas Cowboys' Osa Odighizuwa (97) and Micah Parsons (11) celebrate sacking Teddy Bridgewater (5) as running back III (25) and referee Bill Vinovich (52) look on in the second half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

The Falcons rank 27th in rushing attempts this season, mostly a factor of playing from behind. Winners of three of the last four, it's likely they test the Dallas run defense early, but have plenty of other ways to get the ball to top playmaker Cordarrelle Patterson.

With the Cowboys defensive front mostly holding their responsibilities against the Broncos, this game will be yet another test for the linebackers and . Dallas has used as an extra against pass-catching backs before, but will also have to deal with rookie sensation as a favorite target of Matt Ryan at .

The position the Cowboys are getting the most help at with returning players off injuries is the , where numbers against Denver don't tell the full story. How they use this depth to make up for inefficiencies elsewhere could be the key to sustaining a defense that holds off the Giants and Eagles in the East and is prepared for playoff football.

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Sean Martin

Written by Sean Martin

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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2 Comments

  1. Run defense is the Achilles heel of this defense. (having Lawrence back should help). Teams will continue to run the ball and go on time consuming drives, to minimize the possessions for our offense. We have been largely successful this year due to getting early leads (except broncos game) which forced teams to abandon the run, to play catch up.

    To have success moving forward, the offense will need to continue putting points up early, to neutralize this strategy by our opponents. If T Smith can stay relatively healthy this year ( a big if) we can do that. if he can’t we are in big trouble.

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