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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They’re Given Credit For

Bryson Treece

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith / Dallas Cowboys

Last season, the biggest knock on the Dallas Cowboys--who won 13 games--was the team lacked an effective pass rush. While there might have been some truth in the observation, there is still more to the story. If you want to know the Cowboys’ chances of winning the Super Bowl this year, check out Dallas Cowboys betting odds for the 2017 season.

Last season, the Cowboys didn’t get to the quarterback quickly enough, getting 20 sacks in 12 games and rightfully earning the label of not having a good pass rush. But in their final five games of the season, which includes their playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Cowboys had 16 sacks.

The Cowboys averaged 3.2 sacks per game in their final five games, which was more than any other team during that stretch.

Despite the slow start to the season, the Cowboys finished with 36 sacks last year, which was more than the 31 sacks they had the previous season. In fact, the Cowboys went from 25th in sacks in 2015 to 13th in 2016.

To put things in proper perspective, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks are the only playoff teams that finished with more sacks than the Cowboys.

The New York Giants, who spent a substantial amount of money revamping their defense, finished with less sacks than the Cowboys, as did the two Super Bowl teams.

One of the reasons people thought the Cowboys didn’t have a pass rush last season was the inconsistency the team showed throughout the season. The defense averaged 1.6 sacks per game in the first 12 games before going on a tear to end the season.

Another reason people didn’t think they had a good pass rush is the fact that they don’t have any big name players on the defensive line. A good example of what I’m talking about is the Houston Texans.

Last season, whenever the Texans were on television, all fans heard about is how good their defense was, but the reality of it was they finished 24th in sacks last year. The obvious reason they didn’t have as many sacks as the Cowboys is the fact that three-time Defensive Player of the Year, JJ Watt, missed most of the season.

Even without Watt in the lineup, people still gave Houston’s pass rush credit because of Watt.

After going the free agency route to try and establish a premier pass rush, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys decided it wasn’t the best way to approach building their defensive line and are now focused on building it through the draft, as they did with their offensive line.

With so many young players on the line, they haven’t had the time to make names for themselves, but that will soon change as long as they can continue playing at the high level they did to end the season.

Last season, Maliek Collins recorded five sacks as a rookie. David Irving and Tyrone Crawford added four each. This year, the Cowboys drafted Taco Charlton, giving them another pass rusher that is expected to contribute right away.

With last year’s players expected to improve and players like Charlton coming on board, we will likely be talking about how the Cowboys have the best pass rush in the league this time next year.



Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

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13 Comments
  • Kevin Brady

    Good points, Bryson. I love having Maliek Collins on the inside, as he’s proven to be an excellent pass rushing DT. I think a lot hinges on David Irving this season. He’s shown how great he can be in spurts, now it’s time for consistency.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

      Consistency is key. And coming back from suspension. But it’s just hard to see the team for what they are sometimes. Is their push rush great? No., but it’s better than many give them credit for.

    • ThePsychodad69

      Good article, more like this and BTB will be knocking, GJOb

      • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

        haha I own ITS so that might be get kinda weird…

        Thanks, though. I appreciate you!

        • John Williams

          this made me laugh a bit as well. Maybe they’ll be knocking and asking for sponsorship, lol.

  • ThePsychodad69

    Aaaaah… Facts way better then PFFs we rated the players on a basis we can’t tell you about, apparently the goverment subscribes to the PFF philosophy, we dont need to tell you how we came up with this, we just did and thats the way it is.

    But that all said, Marinelli felt comfy letting dog’s be dog’s, if you leave them in the house, they can’t protect your boat. Let them roam the yard and they’ll protect the boat and the house.

  • Colston Ballew

    If the cowboys do develop into a top defense in terms of rushing and sacking the QB then the secondary will look a lot better also. Remember the player who put our defense over the top in the 90’s?? One Charles Haley who was a handful to say the least. While nobody in their right mind would ever compare Taco to Haley, if the defensive line can develop into a unit like that one, watch out!!

    • John Williams

      Totally agree with this one. They are on the cusp of being great. They’ve added the pieces in the defensive backfield as well to give the pass rush a bit more time.

  • John Williams

    Yeah, I totally agree. I think they were good at times last season, but also faded at times. The Green Bay playoff game for example. That last play from Rodgers to Cook sticks out in my mind. He had sooooo much time.

    I think you are on point though, that they aren’t as bad as the perception. I just think we don’t know what they’ll be.

    David Irving, Charles Tapper, Benson Mayowa, Damontre Moore, Taco Charlton, Tyrone Crawford can be good players for the team, but to me haven’t arrived yet. I need to see more before I let my worry go on those players.

    I think Maliek Collins is about the only sure thing on the defensive line, and that’s projecting what he was last year to what he can be.

    • Homer Price

      John, You forgot to mention DeMarcus Lawrence, although he did not have many sacks last year, he did pressure the quarterback many times. He led the team in sacks in 2015. I think being suspended the first 4 games hurt his season, I noticed last year he was giving a lot of effort so don’t count him out.

      • John Williams

        I’m curious as to just how healthy he is. I like Lawrence, but back problems don’t go away. They stay with you. Since everything about being a defensive end involves your back, I’m reluctant to count on him just yet coming off his second back surgery.

      • John Williams

        As training camp begins, it looks like I’ve been completely wrong about Lawrence. It appears that he is healthy and ready to go and some people are saying he’s been the best defensive lineman so far. That’s saying a lot.

  • Mr. Jaguar

    I think the Cowboys defense will be successful and will be a top 10 defense in 2017.

Star Blog

Where In The World Is DE Taco Charlton?

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Defense Comes Alive In Loss At LA Rams 2
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Over pretty much the last decade, the Dallas Cowboys have been rock solid with their first round picks. With selections of Ezekiel Elliott, Travis Frederick, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Leighton Vander Esch (just to name a handful), Dallas has rebuilt the core of their roster through the NFL Draft.

It's nearly impossible to bat .1000 in any round of the draft, however, and this appears to be the current case with the Cowboys' 2017 first round pick.

Defensive end Taco Charlton has not had the sophomore season that he, or anyone, had hoped for. A healthy scratch last Sunday, Charlton has only been active for 1 of the Cowboys' last 5 games, and has not recorded a sack or tackle since week 9.

Prior to disappearing with injuries and "attitude issues," Charlton had only recorded 1 sack on the season and was beginning to fall behind his Hot Boy-brethren. Defensive end Randy Gregory has reached his form over the last few weeks, Tyrone Crawford is having arguably a career year, and DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best ends in all of football.

This doesn't leave much room for Charlton, who's now having issues even getting on the gameday roster. Rod Marinelli dodged questions about Taco Charlton earlier this week, vaguely saying they are "moving forward" and that he'd like to talk about other players on his defensive line who are performing.

Calvin Watkins on Twitter

Rod Marinelli on Taco Charlton's benching and being inactive last week: "We just keep moving along keep going forward. It's kinda been out there I'd leave it at that. I'd rather talk about our two tackles.

Charlton has not been quiet about his displeasure as of late, either. He's taken to Twitter to voice his frustrations, saying that not only is his shoulder fine but that the Dallas media is making up stories about his absence. He's also posted some cryptic tweets such as this one, with a picture of Allen Iverson and a caption reading "Every players needs that one coach to believe in them."

https://twitter.com/TheSupremeTaco/status/1072203745868554240

Maybe Taco is right. Maybe he just needs increased opportunity and a support system/coach that believes in him whole-heartedly. After all, Charlton has faced nothing but doubters and detractors since the second he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.

But in the NFL, the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" sport, it's hard to imagine he'll get that unwavering support anywhere in the league. He's going to have to "earn" his playing time, as head coach Jason Garrett spoke to earlier in the week. But with the plethora of talent the Cowboys are already putting out there on the defensive line, it's becoming difficult to see exactly where Taco Charlton can fit in on this defense.

It's possible, and fine, if it is simply not a fit between Charlton and the Cowboys at this point. But I'd also be wary of giving up on your first round pick in just his second NFL season. Another offseason with the team, working on his craft and getting fully healthy, should do Charlton wonders, and hopefully allow us to get a better read on his future with the Cowboys going forward.

Until then, we are all left to scratch out heads and wonder what in the world is going on with the Cowboys and Taco Charlton, and if the former first round pick will have a future in Dallas at all.



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Star Blog

Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC

2018 has seen the emergence of high-powered offenses in both NFL conferences. The Kansas City Chiefs sit atop the AFC and the NFC is spearheaded by the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams. Through 14 weeks, these three teams are the top three offenses in the NFL, each averaging over 30 points per game. This year, for the first time in NFL history, two teams scored more than 50 in the same game.

Thanks to this consistent impressive offensive performances, you would think "offense" is the name of the game for the 2018 NFL season. Well, not so fast, my friend. Despite sitting atop the NFC, the Saints and the Rams have recently suffered losses that indicate hope is anything but lost for defensive teams in the league.

The Chicago Bears were able to bring down the Rams last Sunday Night 15-6. The same offense that averages 33 points per game was limited to six points. Sean McVay's remarkable offense went home with no touchdowns to talk about on the plane back home. Instead, they probably discussed Jared Goff's four interceptions.

Weeks earlier, the Dallas Cowboys shocked the world when they brought down the Saints. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas simply couldn't move the ball against Leighton Vander Esch, DeMarcus Lawrence and Byron Jones. 13 points were all the Cowboys needed to score to beat an offense that was averaging 37 per game heading into week 13 but was only able to put up 10 in Dallas.

The Cowboys are the #4 seed with the Bears slightly ahead of them as the #3 seed in the NFC. Together, these teams have defeated the top two in the conference. Now granted, playoffs will definitely be different.

For starters, if they are to advance to the divisional round, they'll be on the road. Chicago was surely benefited by playing in such a cold weather versus a Los Angeles team. As far as the Cowboys are concerned, few times has AT&T Stadium been as loud as when they beat the Saints.

Hopefully, we'll get to see both of these elite defenses advance to the Divisional Round to  square off against this couple of high-powered offenses again. We will not only be witnessing amazing football games, but a great discussion regarding the everlasting debate between offense and defense.

For years, "defense wins championships" has been a widely accepted statement in football. The Cowboys and Bears have made that same statement resound recently with their impressive wins.

Can they do it again in January football? Can they do it on the road?

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys, Bears Proving Defense Can Win the NFC" 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

Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Al igual que el resto de la afición de los Dallas Cowboys, parte de mí se siente confiada respecto a este equipo visitando a Indianapolis Colts y resultando victoriosos. ¿El problema? Los Colts no son un rival sencillo de vencer. Si crees que la racha de los Cowboys los intimidará, piensa de nuevo. Los Houston Texans llevaban nueve victorias al hilo antes de enfrentarse a este equipo.

Siendo objetivos, este puede ser el partido que evite que los Cowboys cierren su temporada con ocho victorias al hilo para terminar el año con un récord de 11-5. Ni los Tampa Bay Buccaneers ni los New York Giants deberían presentar amenaza alguna contra Dallas. Lo mismo no se puede decir de Indianapolis.

Por primera vez en mucho tiempo, Andrew Luck está realmente de vuelta. Gracias a una reconstrucción de su línea ofensiva, su nivel de juego a regresado al nivel que conocíamos de él desde que llegó a la NFL. Afortunadamente para los Colts, Luck se ha mantenido sano toda la temporada y no se ve rastro alguno de sus lesiones anteriores en el emparrillado.

T.Y. Hilton está teniendo un muy buen año y sin duda alguna presentará un reto para Byron Jones y el resto de la secundaria de los Cowboys. Eric Ebron en la posición de tight end también será un dolor de cabeza para la defensiva.

Lo más interesante se dará en las trincheras. Los Cowboys han hecho un muy buen trabajo presionando quarterbacks opuestos en la temporada, pero si el centro de los Colts, Ryan Kelly está sano el domingo, se enfrentarán al mejor duo de centro-guardia en la liga actualmente. Con Quenton Nelson al lado, Luck estará muy bien protegido.

Sin embargo, Kelly no ha jugado debido a una lesión y aún está por verse si tomará el campo el domingo por la mañana. Los Cowboys hicieron un muy buen trabajo a la entonces ofensiva #1 de la liga, los New Orleans Saints, pero eso no significa que la ofensiva #8 que tienen los Colts no los retará.

Promediando 27 puntos por juego, la defensiva necesitará ayuda de Dak Prescott y compañía para ganar el partido. Dallas continúa moviendo el balón efectivamente, pero es tiempo de anotar touchdowns y no goles de campo.

Ezekiel Elliott será, una vez más, clave para la victoria. Enfrentándose a una defensiva Top 10 contra el juego terrestre, mover las cadenas con Zeke no será tan fácil. El novato Darius Leonard como linebacker ha sido algo espectacular otra temporada al igual que Leighton Vander Esch. Liderando a toda la NFL en tackleadas, estará listo para recibir a los Cowboys al Lucas Oil Stadium.

Lo más importante de este partido...

Por más impresionante que sea la racha de cinco victorias consecutivas, los Cowboys tienen que demostrar que pueden ganarle a un equipo fuerte estando de visita. Porque hay que admitirlo, Jason Garrett y su equipo no han tenido éxito fuera de casa. Claro, le ganaron a un equipo debilitado de Philadelphia Eagles y a unos Atlanta Falcons que va 4-9.

Este equipo "nuevo" de los Cowboys no ha ido contra un rival de calidad siendo el visitante. Es tiempo de demostrar que lo pueden hacer, ya que si quieren contender en postemporada, es justo lo que necesitarán... jugar bien de visita.

Sinceramente creo que los Cowboys ganan este partido. Principalmente gracias a su defensiva, pero también veo a la ofensiva dominar el tiempo de posesión en un juego de pocos puntos. Es tiempo de mantener esa racha.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Los Colts No Son Cualquier Rival" 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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