The Dallas Cowboys defensive line is playing its best football right now. Which is great timing considering they’re about to face one of the best running games in the NFL when they travel to Minnesota to take on Dalvin Cook and the Vikings.
The Cowboys issues stopping the run have been documented at length over the course of the last few years. In their last two matchups, and against the Steelers specifically, the Cowboys run defense was much improved. Was that a sign of things to come or some lightning in a bottle?
After they spent some money and brought in defensive tackles Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy, the hope was that the interior would be better in 2020. McCoy never played a snap for the Cowboys and Poe played but wasn’t effective. It’s been a familiar face in Antwaun Woods and a couple young players that have been the best defensive tackles for the Cowboys this season.
Neville Gallimore’s breakout performance against the Steelers before the bye week and Trysten Hill’s play before going on injured reserve gave us a glimpse of the possibilities to come.
Woods and Gallimore have provided a spark to the interior of the defensive line in the Cowboys’ last couple of games and they’ll need to come through yet again.
Dalvin Cook is leading the league in rushing yards and touchdowns in 2020 even after a down week against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. In just eight games this season, Dalvin Cook has carried the ball 174 times for 954 yards, and 12 touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. That’s an incredible pace for an offense and a team that hasn’t played great this season.
When the two teams met last season, Cook was magnificent. He carried the ball 26 times for 97 yards and a touchdown and caught seven passes for 86 yards on a day where the Dallas Cowboys didn’t have any answers for the Vikings running back.
For the Cowboys to have a chance to win this game (if that’s what you’re hoping for) they’re going to need the defensive line to play as good as it has the last couple of weeks, in particular up the middle. They need Antwaun Woods and Neville Gallimore to win their matchups and if not, prevent the offensive line from getting to the second level and attacking the linebackers. That’s where we’ve seen this team struggle the most.
Though it’s way too soon to begin looking at the 2021 depth chart, the Cowboys have a bright future at defensive tackle with Gallimore, Hill, and if they choose to bring him back, soon to be restricted free agent Antwaun Woods. The Cowboys may still need to invest in the position in the 2021 offseason, either in free agency or the draft, but they’ve got a really nice corps of players to build the interior of their defense with. Gallimore and Woods will be put that bright future on display this weekend against the Minnesota Vikings.