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Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE? 2

The Dallas Cowboys are one step closer to the 2017 season, having completed their OTAs and minicamp from The Star. Throughout these early summer weeks, the Cowboys' rookies have had a chance to get acclimated to America's Team. As has been the case throughout his initial draft process, 28th overall pick DE Taco Charlton has generated little to no buzz - although the pads have yet to come on for physical defenders like him to really shine.

There is little question that Taco Charlton is going to face a learning curve as he tries to take the next step as a pass rusher in the NFL - all young defensive ends do.

However, as expected, Charlton has reportedly made most of his flashes from his natural LDE position after being set up as the "answer at RDE" by Dallas' brass following his selection.

Bryan Broaddus has been doing a terrific job as always of highlighting exactly what he's seen from Taco so far at DallasCowboys.com, having this to say about his positional flexibility:

"Charlton had nice power battles with Tyron Smith on several snaps. Charlton was able to get his hand inside knocking Smith back, but the next play he wasn’t so lucky. Smith punched him with his left hand, which shocked Charlton, knocking him to the ground. When he was moved inside, Charlton’s best move was the spin, which caught the guards by surprise freeing him up on the rush and allowing him to get home." - Bryan Broaddus

Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE? 3

I don't think it will be long into training camp - if at all - until we see the Cowboys commit Charlton to the LDE position fully. Yes, there is the fact that any right rusher work he's gotten so far has come against the best LT in the NFL in a healthy Tyron Smith, but upgrading the strong side end position with a talented rookie is far from a worst case scenario for Dallas.

Broaddus added this about the differences in Taco Charlton's game at both DE spots:

"The last two days at left end, he just looks more natural and comfortable in the way he rushes."

Cowboys Nation may collectively be disappointed at the very fact that the first round pick we all demanded be used on a pass rusher went to a player that will excel in less of a pass rushing spot, but this team is actually set up better than years past when it comes to Rod Marinelli's rotation on the right side - especially if Charlton draws enough attention on the opposite edge.

Benson Mayowa

To start, there is last year's sack leader and second-year player Benson Mayowa. With six sacks in his first season in the silver and blue, Mayowa certainly faced the challenge of adjusting to his new role as he was inactive for three weeks in the middle of the season before finishing strong.

The Cowboys will be looking for Mayowa to be an even bigger part of their DE rotation now, signing him to a three-year deal last season - clearly seeing some long-term development potential with the former Seahawk and Raider.

Of course, Marinelli's patented rotation needs to have more than two capable bodies with fresh legs pressuring the pocket. Red-shirted in his rookie season with a back injury, Charles Tapper is ready to bring his speed and freaky athleticism to the Cowboys' defensive line as well.

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Players To Watch At Rookie Minicamp 3

Photo by James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Realistically, getting any valuable snaps out of Tapper at RDE to change up the looks opposing left tackles will see in dealing with Dallas pass rushers would be an invaluable addition to this defensive front in 2017.

Damontre Moore is also a new addition at the DE position, an "orphan" that's bounced around the league as the Giants' third round pick of 2013. Moore has fully embraced the opportunity to find a new home and fresh start with the Cowboys so far, fitting right in as a relentless rusher that chases down plays all across the field.

Lastly, there is always DeMarcus Lawrence - although his time could be running out with the Cowboys very soon. To debate whether or not Lawrence fits best at LDE or RDE has become relatively unimportant now, as the Cowboys just need to see Lawrence line up for 16 games and get into form. Toeing the line as another potential second round bust, Lawrence at his best is more than capable of producing off the right edge.

Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE? 1

No, the Dallas Cowboys shouldn't force rookie Taco Charlton to play a position where he has little chance of making an impact in his first season. A steady LDE does indeed improve this team's pass rush, even if Charlton was incorrectly sold to us as the commitment at RDE the Cowboys have been - and continue to - put off.

As for actually generating pressure on the quarterback from the right side, the Cowboys seem to have an intriguing core of DEs eager to prove themselves as the RDE position as soon as training camp gets underway in Oxnard. When paired with a strong group of defensive tackles and a first round talent at one DE spot, this scrappy defensive line might not take the world by storm this season but should certainly show noticeable improvements.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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
  • Randy Martin

    I’ve heard very little about D-Law during OTA’s and Mini-Camp and I saw his name in inactives (back). He had his 2nd back surgery this off-season and it seems pretty much everybody I’ve ever known that had a back problem that required surgery always had to deal with pain. I know under doctors care they can still have a productive career. Look no further than DeMarcus Ware who had back trouble early in his career and yet went on to carve his name as a sure HOF’er. I’m just a little concerned with how this back injury will impact his career. I also wonder about Tapper and his Pars defect. That was a genetic birth defect that caused him to miss the season last year but with survey is it permanently fixed or can we expect that to be a problem? I do feel better than most about this D-line and look for them to fall in as a top 10 overall season. Lets not forget that they were #1 against the run last year and with added speed across the defense I think there is a lot to be hopeful about.

  • dallas1966

    Sean, your insightful information regarding the Cowboys defensive lineman, is spot on.

    I truly believe that the light bulb has finally turned on, regarding D. Moore, @ RDE. I like the way he is committing himself, both physically and mentally, in bringing the heat for the Cowboys.
    D. Moore, could finally be the unexpected War Daddy, that Jerry, has been looking for, over these past few years.

    This Cowboys teams foundation is on a mission to bring Mr. Jones, that elusive 4th Super Bowl ring on February 4th.

    Yes Sir, slowly but surely, the glory days of the 70’s and 90’s are coming back for a new generation of Cowboy fans, with the unexpected duo of Garrett and Prescott joined at the hip.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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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!



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Star Blog

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

Kevin Brady

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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.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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