Connect with us

Star Blog

Cowboys Nation Chooses Defensive Ends to Start 2016

Sean Martin

Published

on

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Nation Chooses Defensive Ends to Start 2016

By now, if you're a loyal follower of the Dallas Cowboys, you are already tired of the team's off season talk being centered around the dreary situation Rod Marinelli and the Cowboys' defense finds themselves in entering 2016.

Particularly, Dallas' defensive line has been tightly scrutinized, after an already unproven unit suffered suspensions to Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence.

//insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/cowboys-defensive-hopes-rest-in-the-secondary/

While I am not as pessimistic as most about the current state of the Cowboys' pass rushers, the unit will certainly face an uphill battle to perform at a level capable of bringing this team to where they want to go.

That journey for the 2016 Dallas Cowboys will officially begin on September 11th against the New York Giants. Must-follow Cowboys analyst Dan Turner recently took to Twitter to ask Cowboys Nation who will be getting after Eli Manning when the game actually means something at AT&T Stadium that night.

Here are the results for the right and left defensive end positions:

Dan Turner on Twitter

Week 1, who starts for the #Cowboys at RDE?

Dan Turner on Twitter

Week 1, who starts for the #Cowboys at LDE?

Before we break down these results further, it is important to always remember how relative of a term "starter" is when it comes to defensive linemen in Marinelli's scheme. The third-year defensive coordinator is known for sending waves of "rushmen" after the quarterback, constantly throwing different looks at opposing offenses.

With that, there is a strong chance that all six above players will see snaps at defensive end for the Cowboys as early as week one. According to fans, getting the first crack on the right side (against Giants' LT Ereck Flowers - who looked silly in this game last year against Randy Gregory) will be the newly acquired Benson Mayowa.

In limited time with the Seahawks and Raiders, Mayowa has not proven much in his short NFL career outside of the ability to play with a high motor and rush with speed around the edge.

//insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/how-benson-mayowa-fits-cowboys-blueprint/

Mayowa will be a guy to keep a close eye on during training camp this summer, after he was taken out of minicamp with a knee injury. The Cowboys will be the first team that Mayowa gets a significant opportunity to develop with, and the young athletic stud could end up being a hidden gem on the right side of the defensive line.

On the left side, DeMarcus Lawrence hopes to return in week 5 to reclaim the position that he dominated in during the second half of the 2015 season. Until then, it is no surprise to see David Irving becoming the fan's pick to fill in on that side of the field.

Irving has forced the Cowboys to take notice of him ever since joining the team after week 3 of the 2015 season via the Kansas City Chiefs' practice squad. With all the physical attributes and ability to wreak havoc on Marinelli's defensive front, Irving did just that with his chances lined up at defensive tackle.

Now, with the defensive tackle position being one of the stronger spots for this Dallas defense, David Irving could be called upon to disrupt plays from the far left end spot. This is a desirable position for the long-armed Irving, who can help the Cowboys run defense while putting pressure on quarterbacks with adequate speed around the edge.

 

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Nation Chooses Defensive Ends to Start 2016 2

Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

 

With Tyrone Crawford and Cedric Thornton expected to start next to each other in the middle of the Cowboys 4-3 alignment, the results of this fan poll would see a starting defensive line of - from right to left - Benson Mayowa, Cedric Thornton, Tyrone Crawford, and David Irving.

While I'm not here to say that those four players are going to be the reason the Cowboys' beat the Giants to open their season, it is certainly a promising group full of potential. With the likes of Jack Crawford, Ryan Russell, and rookie Charles Tapper also ready to prove themselves at defensive end as well, the Cowboys defensive line is going to be out to prove a lot of people wrong - and very well may do that starting soon.

Who would you choose to start at defensive end for the Cowboys in week 1? Let us know! Comment below to share your thoughts, or email me at sean.martin@insidethestar.com!

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Nation Chooses Defensive Ends to Start 2016" 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.

Advertisement
2 Comments
  • http://www.macsavers.com Kevin Black

    I think you'll see Mayowa and the right side and Russell on the left, with Irving being moved all over the defensive line. On pass rush downs, you can put Irving at any position along the line and he should succeed. He's the perfect person to give a rest on those downs to whoever needs it with almost no drop-off in ability. I just don't see Marinelli pigeon holing Irving into just one position.

    • http://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/ Sean Martin

      Thanks for reading, Kevin! I agree with all of this completely, the big question in this lineup comes from Russell though. If he progresses as well as it seems he could, I have no problem with him lining up down the line from Mayowa and Irving being used in that exact role. Thanks again.

Star Blog

Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

The Cowboys took their fair share of heat for selecting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. But through just over half a season, Dallas is looking vindicated in their decision.

Vander Esch was arguably the best defensive player on the field during Dallas' 27-20 win in Philadelphia Sunday night, and made the two biggest defensive plays of the game as well. Finishing with a game-high 13 tackles, Vander Esch was all over the field in both run and pass defense.

The first of his two massive plays came in the first quarter. After the Cowboys offense stalled deep in their own territory, the Eagles looked to be in prime position to strike first with a short field. On Carson Wentz' first pass attempt of the drive, however, Leighton Vander Esch was there to intercept him and return the ball back 28 yards.

Those return yards proved key as well, giving the Cowboys the short field and an easy path to their first three points of the night. And with the way their offense looked early in this game, Dallas could use all the help they could get.

The biggest play of the game, though, came late in the fourth quarter. With the Eagles facing a third and short and down seven points, they absolutely needed a conversion to keep pace with the surprisingly hot Cowboys offense. Philadelphia tried to beat Dallas with a running back screen to the backside, inviting the pass rush and getting blockers out in front.

There seemed to be nothing but blockers and green grass ahead for the Eagles on this play, with "Next Gen Stats" expecting a 22 yard gain after the catch. Then, Leighton Vander Esch eluded two blockers and tracked down the running back for a loss of 3.

Next Gen Stats on Twitter

Leighton Vander Esch made a game-saving tackle late in the 4th quarter to preserve the Cowboys 27-20 win. Corey Clement was expected to gain 22 yards after the catch (gained 3), -19 YAC Below Expectation, the most yards saved on a pass play this season. #DALvsPHI #DallasCowboys https://t.co/0DF7jhPQzH

If not for this tackle, who knows how both that Eagles' drive and the game would have ended. Vander Esch saved the day for Dallas, and forced the Eagles into a tough fourth and long situation with the game on the line.

I know it is still early in Vander Esch's career, and even relatively early in this season as well, but it's become clear the Cowboys hit a home run with their 2018 first round selection. Vander Esch is fitting in beside Jaylon Smith with ease, and with those two athletic freaks together, the Cowboys look to have one of the brightest defensive futures in all of football.

Of course, there are now legitimate questions about what the Cowboys should do with their captain Sean Lee. But as of right now, it should be Leighton Vander Esch's job to lose.



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Can Cowboys LB Vander Esch Do Enough to Win DROY?

Mauricio Rodriguez

Published

on

LB Leighton Vander Esch Rare Bright Spot In Cowboys Disappointing Loss

At 3-5, there are very few positive things to point out when discussing the 2018 Dallas Cowboys. One of those few things has been first-round rookie Leighton Vander Esch, whose play at linebacker has taken the league by surprise. Seen as a raw talent who could develop into an elite player with time as a prospect, Vander Esch's impact on the field has been immediate.

Through nine weeks in the NFL season, the Boise State product should definitely be in the Defensive Rookie of the Year discussion. As much as Sean Lee's injury will hurt the Cowboys' defense, it will get the rookie more playing time and a big opportunity to put his name in the minds of NFL Honors voters.

Sean Lee will miss some time after re-injuring his hamstring for the second time this season. Earlier in the year, Jaylon Smith and Vander Esch were able to keep the defense from crumbling without their veteran captain. Even with all the offensive struggles, that should continue to be the case for the linebackers.

Vander Esch has only played in 65% of the Cowboys' defensive snaps, yet he's tied for ninth place in solo tackles in the entire league with 49. He's at 64 total tackles and two pass deflections and has been a magnet to opposing ball carriers every time he's been on the field.

He's the third highest graded rookie LB for Pro Football Focus. Most times, rookies find success like this by being rotational players or simply splitting snaps with other players. But as previously mentioned, Lee has already been out for a handful of games in 2018 and Vander Esch has lived up to the hype.

Simply put, Leighton's play as a rookie has already put Sean Lee's future on the Cowboys in question. With such an injury history and a two young studs ready to take over the reigns, Dallas could very well release Lee prior to the 2019 season.

Now granted, the race for Defensive Rookie of the Year will not be an easy one to win for Vander Esch. Fourth overall pick Denzel Ward has been an impressive cornerback for the Browns and fifth-overall pick Bradley Chubb has been one of the best pass rushers on Sundays. Not to mention the NFL leader in solo tackles, Colts' LB Darius Leonard.

Despite a great start to his season, the Cowboys young LB will have to play way better for his name to be called when the Defensive Rookie of the Year is revealed at the NFL Honors event in February. There are some pretty big names he has to catch up with in order to make this happen.

Tell me what you think about "Can Cowboys LB Vander Esch Do Enough to Win DROY?" 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!



Continue Reading

Star Blog

Dak Prescott/Carson Wentz Is No Rivalry, And There’s Only One Side To Blame

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Dak Prescott/Carson Wentz Is No Rivalry, And There's Only One Side To Blame

It feels like an eternity has passed since 2016, yet somehow, it was only 2 seasons ago.

The Dallas Cowboys were riding high, en route to a 13-3 season and an NFC East crown. They had drafted the league's leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall in the previous draft, and believed to have found their franchise quarterback over 100 picks later.

Up in Philadelphia things weren't going as smoothly, but they were certainly on the upswing. After trading up to select Carson Wentz in that same 2016 draft, the Eagles also believed they had their quarterback of the future.

Cowboys/Eagles. Dak/Wentz. A debate between two hated rivals which began in 2016 and seemed like it would go on for the next decade. It was almost too perfect.

Countless articles and blog posts were written about the birth of a quarterback rivalry which would span for the foreseeable future. Which team had the better draft haul in 2016? Which team was better set up for the future behind their young quarterback?

The two met for the first time on Sunday Night football back in 2016, and for much of the night neither was very good. They both looked like rookies, but at the end of the game Dak Prescott was the one who came through in the clutch, throwing the game winner in overtime to Jason Witten. The rivalry was born, and the Cowboys had the upper hand.

Fast forward to today and things are much, much different. Prescott and Wentz have only really played each other one other time since that first match-up, a game which the Eagles dominated and Dak Prescott threw 3 interceptions.

The other two games have been meaningless and ugly, two adjectives which could describe every Cowboys game the past calendar year.

Simply put, there is no rivalry. Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have not held up their end of the bargain since that first match-up in 2016. Prescott's play has fallen off considerably, as he has fallen victim to just about every piece of lazy analysis Eagles fans gave during his miraculous 2016 season.

Doug Pederson has become the anti-Jason Garrett, quite literally making his name off being aggressive on critical downs and refusing to punt on fourth and short in plus territory. The Eagles front office has become the anti-Cowboys, going after pricey trade targets and free agents to ensure they are making the most of their young quarterback's rookie contract window.

The Cowboys have failed just about everywhere that the Eagles have succeeded. And, Dak Prescott has failed just about everywhere Carson Wentz has excelled.

Maybe things will turn around this Sunday for Dallas, and if they are able to win, they'd still be very much alive in the division race. But all of that seems highly unlikely. There is no longer a Dak/Wentz rivalry. There's barely even a reason for Eagles fans to have Dak Prescott on their radar.

Let's hope Prescott and the Cowboys can begin to change things this Sunday.



Continue Reading



Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending