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Cowboys Nation Chooses Defensive Ends to Start 2016

Sean Martin

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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.

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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

Xavier Woods Among Cowboys with Something to Prove in Seattle

John Williams

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The Earl Thomas trade rumors have been relentless this offseason. We've heard about them. I've written about them, and for better or worse, they just won't stop. No doubt Dallas Cowboys Safety Xavier Woods has heard them as well.

When Woods went down with his hamstring injury and as Earl Thomas continued his hold out, the clamor for Thomas grew louder and louder.

Per reports, it looks like Woods is set to make his 2018 debut. With a good game against the Seattle Seahawks, he can put a silence to the trade rumors.

I've been a proponent of making the deal for Earl Thomas all offseason. From the time he came running down the tunnel toward the Dallas Cowboys locker room, I've been all aboard the Earl Thomas hype train. Opportunities to add All-Pro players don't come along very often and if you're hoping to win football games in the short term, like the Dallas Cowboys are, you make the move.

My opinion isn't a knock on Xavier Woods, who was good as a rookie last year. He was especially good when asked to play in the slot early in the 2017 season. It has more to do with Woods still being a bit of an unknown and Thomas being a known quantity.

Xavier Woods has shown potential to be a really good safety in this league. In college, he played a lot of single high safety and played it very well. He has a knack for making plays on the football and can be a game changer for the Dallas Cowboys.

If the Dallas Cowboys can come away with a victory in Seattle, facing the player that the Dallas Cowboys have been linked to for months, and Woods has a good game in the process, then all of this will go away.

Heading into Sunday, Xavier Woods isn't the only player on the Dallas Cowboys roster who has something to prove.

Two Wide Receivers

The Cowboys added another wide receiver this week when they resigned free agent Brice Butler. I agree with Inside The Star Staff Writer Jess Haynie that adding Butler doesn't make a ton of sense, but it definitely adds question marks to the wide receiver room, in particular wide receivers Terrance Williams and Allen Hurns.

These two wide receivers were expected to be the starters on the outside and the primary targets, aside from Wide Receiver Cole Beasley, and yet, they've failed to have much of an impact in either of the two games in the 2018 season.

Take a look at their stat lines.

  • Allen Hurns: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 29 yards, 0 touchdowns, on 55% of the team's offensive snaps.
  • Terrance Williams: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 18 yards, 0 touchdowns on 25% of the snaps.

Those two are tied for fifth in receptions through two weeks of the season. Wide Receiver Deonte Thompson has found himself as a favorite target of Quarterback Dak Prescott through the first two games and has seven receptions for 60 yards.

With now seven wide receivers on the roster, there are less snaps to go around and with the increase in playing time for Tavon Austin and Michael Gallup, Terrance Williams may have already found himself as the odd man out. Brice Butler complicates things further for Williams and may eat into Allen Hurns snap count as well.

Now it looks like Terrance Williams is facing a suspension. If the suspension comes down before Sunday, he's going to really have a hard time finding a role on this team when he comes back.

Brandon George on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys WR Terrance Williams faces suspension stemming from May arrest for public intoxication https://t.co/of11Xlb7wD via @sportsdaydfw

If he comes back. 

Defensive End Making a Comeback

Things started out really well for returning Defensive End Randy Gregory. During the preseason he flashed the tools that made him a highly coveted player before his failed drug test at the NFL Combine.

Unfortunately the start of his 2018 season was derailed due to a concussion early in the Carolina Panthers game forcing him to miss week two.

In his place, Taco Charlton emerged as an impact player on the right side of the defensive line. Charlton has played the most defensive snaps of any defensive end through the first two games of the season; DeMarcus Lawrence included. Taco went from a 73% snap share in week one to an 83% snap share in week two. It's obvious that he's earned his snaps and the coaching staff wants to get him on the field.

This doesn't even begin to mention the contributions by rookie fourth round pick Dorance Armstrong, who like Charlton, saw a 10% snap increase from week one to week two and played really well when in the game.

This is a bit of a problem for Randy Gregory. Yes, he flashed in the preseason and early in the Carolina game, but the NFL is a "what have you done for me lately" league and Gregory hasn't done much of anything in the regular season, yet.

Coming into the Seahawks game, Gregory is going to have to earn back some of those snaps. By all accounts he has a chance to be an elite defensive end on the right side of the Dallas Cowboys defense, but he has to prove that he can stay on the field and effective when on it.

He needs to shine in week three.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Who are your players with something to prove heading into the week three matchup with the Seattle Seahawks? Let us know in the comment section. 



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Star Blog

How The Seattle Seahawks Have Increased Importance In Cowboys’ Lore

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys At Seattle Seahawks: 5 Bold Predictions
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

You can't talk about this decade's Dallas Cowboys without discussing the Seattle Seahawks.

In 2012, when Golden Tate took out Sean Lee on a crack-back block and the Seahawks embarrassed a Cowboys team who had just defeated the defending champion New York Giants, we saw which of the two teams was truly ready for the big stage.

In 2014, as Rolando McClain intercepted Russell Wilson and the Cowboys clinched a critical road victory, we knew that Dallas was a legit contender.

In 2015, when Seattle finally came to Dallas and rendered the return of Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant meaningless in a 13-12 win, the then 2-5 Cowboys were sent further into a Romo-less abyss.

And, in 2017, Dez Bryant's key drops and Dan Bailey's missed field goals during a horrendous home loss to the Seahawks on Christmas Eve might have sealed each of their fates for the following offseason.

The most important moment in this Cowboys/Seahawks history, however, occurred during a preseason game. A meaningless preseason game which turned out to be the most meaningful day in recent Cowboys history.

Cliff Avril dragging Tony Romo down from behind, effectively ending his career, and kicking off the roster massive turnover we have seen the last two offseasons. From Dak Prescott, to a brand new secondary, to the retirement of Jason Witten, and the cutting of Dez Bryant. All of this change, which put an end to the Romo era rosters in Dallas, began with that hit in Seattle.

Since 2012 the Cowboys, and the rest of the NFC really, have been judged by how they play against two teams: the Packers and the Seahawks.

They have been the class of the NFC, and while we like to think that if the "Dez Caught It" game went how it should have Dallas would've handled Seattle, that will forever be an unknown.

Sunday's game is not expected to carry the franchise-changing implications that some of these other match ups have had. The Seahawks are 0-2 and reeling, with a shaky offensive line and reported distrust throughout the organization.The Cowboys, however, can jump-start their season with a big road win over a winless team that they should beat in the minds of many.

But knowing how things between these teams tend to go, Sunday afternoon may end up having major implications on the rest of the Cowboys' season.

Where this could be the case is in a potential Earl Thomas trade. It's been speculated that Seattle has been hesitant to deal Thomas to Dallas before their week 3 match up, but could be more willing to do so after the game.

Especially if that game is a loss which sends them to 0-3. The Cowboys have been actively pursuing Earl Thomas, and Thomas has certainly made it clear that he wants to be in Dallas. The only party not willing to make it happen thus far, are the Seahawks.

So, this weekend, there is a chance another chapter is added to those franchise-changing moments in Cowboys/Seahawks lore.



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Star Blog

A Look Around The NFC East: Week 3

Kevin Brady

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Tyrone Crawford, Carson Wentz, Eagles

Week two didn't go as planned for much of the NFC East, with only the Dallas Cowboys reigning victorious last Sunday.

Now, three teams are locked in a tie for first place at 1-1, with the New York Giants lagging behind with a winless record. Week 3 is shaping up to be a potential early turning point, however, with Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz returning and each team facing a very beatable opponent.

Let's take a look around the division and see what the Cowboys' foes will be facing this week.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles fell victim to one of the more surprising upsets of the weekend last Sunday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the Eagles 27-21. While their defense got off to a shaky start in the loss, it was the offense which proved too little too late in their push down the stretch.

Carson Wentz is expected to not only return but to start on Sunday in the Eagles' match up against the Colts. Indianapolis upset the Washington Redskins last week, but will be 6 point underdogs when the game kicks off in Philadelphia on Sunday.

Wentz should give the defending champs an extra boost, and while they haven't looked as dominant as many expected through the first two games, this could be the game to spring them the rest of the way.

Washington Redskins

As mentioned earlier, the Redskins fell in Indianapolis last week, and are now tied for first place in the division with a 1-1 record. As dominant and impressive as Washington looked in their opener against Arizona, Washington's week two loss featured lethargic offensive play for four quarters.

This week the Redskins are three point home underdogs as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers come to town. Green Bay tied Minnesota a week ago, but behind Rodgers and their potent offense, they have the chance to take advantage of Washington's suspect secondary down the field.

Sunday will be a tough test for the Redskins as they look to get back above .500 against a tough conference opponent.

New York Giants

The Giants' season is on the brink this week, and that really isn't a dramatic statement at all. Now at 0-2 with a division loss to the Cowboys last week, the Giants have to beat the 0-2 Texans on Sunday to get some confidence and keep pace within the conference.

Lucky for them, the Texans haven't looked impressive whatsoever through two games. Unlucky for them, the Texans have strong pass rushers like JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney ready to abuse their weak offensive line.

Houston is a six point home favorite over the Giants, proving it will be an uphill battle for New York to save their season.



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