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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

13 Comments

  1. Kevin Brady

    Kevin Brady

    July 18, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    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.

    • Bryson Treece

      July 18, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      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

      July 18, 2017 at 3:25 pm

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

      • Bryson Treece

        July 18, 2017 at 3:48 pm

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

        Thanks, though. I appreciate you!

        • John Williams

          John Williams

          July 19, 2017 at 3:01 am

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

  2. ThePsychodad69

    July 18, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    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.

  3. Colston Ballew

    July 18, 2017 at 3:27 pm

    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

      John Williams

      July 19, 2017 at 3:02 am

      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.

  4. John Williams

    John Williams

    July 19, 2017 at 2:59 am

    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

      July 24, 2017 at 1:38 am

      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

        John Williams

        July 24, 2017 at 2:03 am

        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

        John Williams

        July 26, 2017 at 1:38 am

        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.

  5. Mr. Jaguar

    July 19, 2017 at 9:56 am

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

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Star Blog

2018 In Review: Byron Jones Emerges As CB1

Kevin Brady

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Byron Jones

Heading into the 2018 season Byron Jones was being asked to prove himself. The former first round pick had fallen out of the coaches' good graces during his third season, though many of his struggles could be attributed to those very coaches which were then questioning his ability.

Being asked to play out of position, or at least in a spot which did not maximize his natural ability, Jones struggled in 2017. Too often he was playing in the box as a safety where his lack of physicality was exposed by the opponent's run game. This was mostly due to the coaching staff falling in love with his tight-end-erasing ability in man coverage, but backfired when overused as a safety.

Once hired the following offseason, Kris Richard and company decided to move Byron Jones to cornerback full time, allowing him to utilize his excellent coverage skills and athletic ability to the fullest, rather than putting him at a disadvantage in the box.

The results? Well, Jones had one of the best seasons of any cornerback in football, earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his young career.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Byron Jones had a dominant season for Dallas

Pro Football Focus graded Jones as the sixth best cornerback in all of football last season, allowing just 0.79 yards per coverage snap. Despite not having an interception on the season, Jones still earned national recognition as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire league.

Down the stretch of the season, Chidobe Awuzie started to play up to the level which fans had hoped for during the preseason. He had been sticky in coverage most of the year, but now he was making plays on the ball at a much better rate, forcing incompletions. This led to an increase in targets to Jones' side, and though the increase resulted in more catches given up by the number one cornerback, I don't think Jones' play faltered as much as some will have you believe.

The fact is, when you get targeted more you are bound to give up more catches and yards. The key is to force them into contested catches, and make things as difficult for the receiver as possible when targeted.

Byron Jones continued to do this all season long, and fans should be excited for the next step of his growth in 2019.



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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Time to Stop Making Excuses for QB Dak Prescott?

Por muchos años, el tema del tope salarial ha sido un tema sensible para los Dallas Cowboys. Entre dinero muerto y otros problemas, el equipo ha tenido una situación delicada en este aspecto. Sin embargo, para la temporada del 2019 tienen más espacio de lo que estamos acostumbrados.

Según Over The Cap, los Cowboys tendrán aproximadamente 48 millones de dólares disponibles en 2019. Es importante recalcar que este número no es definitivo y puede cambiar. Año tras año, esta administración ha sido aficionada de reestructurar los contratos de ciertos veteranos para liberar espacio salarial constantemente. Además de esto, hay varios jugadores bajo contrato que el equipo podría decidir cortar para liberar aún más dinero.

Al ver sólo 48 millones disponibles, es complicado imaginar un escenario en que el equipo logre satisfacer todos sus objetivos. Hay bastantes candidatos a grandes extensiones en el equipo, principalmente dos jugadores. En una liga en la que quarterback es la posición más importante, la segunda más importante podría ser la del caza cabezas, cuyo objetivo es ir tras el quarterback contrario.

DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

Pues en Dallas, hoy dos  jugadores en estas posiciones que hay que extender. El más urgente sin duda es el defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. Lawrence se puso el jersey del equipo cuando este lo designó a jugar bajo la etiqueta franquicia. Afortunadamente, el atleta de 26 años la hizo de soldado y jugó sin amenazar con faltar a entrenamientos ni pretemporada.

Lo que sí comentó es que no pasaría por lo mismo en 2019. Ahora, el momento está aquí y es tiempo de que los Cowboys lo extiendan. El valor de Lawrence es difícil de predecir, pero es bastante seguro que se acercará a los números de Khalil Mack. Mack hizo historia ganando un contrato que en promedio gana 23.5 millones al año. Si bien no anticiparía que lo supere, la cifra estará cerca al contrato del defensivo de los Chicago Bears.

Además está Dak Prescott, cuyo contrato probablemente estará por encima de los 25 millones anuales. Son contratos caros, pero son piezas fundamentales para el equipo. Definitivamente se les tiene que pagar a ambos. Son pilares que año tras año buscan equipos en toda la NFL.

Además de esto, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley y más podrían tener un impacto en el tope salarial. Algunos buscan un contrato nuevo, otros una extensión. Pero honestamente, me parece que habrá más espacio en el tope salarial de lo que pensamos. Sólo es cuestión de tiempo para que los Cowboys comiencen a reestructurar a sus veteranos para ahorrarse unos cuantos millones para utilizar en agencia libre.

Tyron Smith, Tyrone Crawford entre otros pueden ser buenas opciones para comenzar este proceso. Antes era Jason Witten uno de los candidatos favoritos para este proceso, pero él ya se encuentra comentando partidos para ESPN. En Inside The Star, continuaremos actualizándote con contenido al día de los Dallas Cowboys.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Comentando el Tope Salarial" 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

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

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Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 2

Super Bowl LIII is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys can look back on a better-than-expected 2018 campaign. Having won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and bowing out to eventual finalists Los Angeles Rams, the Cowboys' young team can look ahead to 2019 as a chance to take another step forward.

The offseason is now upon us, with the NFL free agency period opening in the middle of March and the NFL Draft coming around at the end of April. Until those times, experts, pundits, and fans are left to assess their teams and predict their activities in the running to the start of next season.

The Dallas Cowboys are in a precarious position, with the team exceeding expectations, still being very young and having plenty of cap space, but also having many top-end players set to become free agents and being without a first-round pick in this year’s draft. There does, however, appear to be a way for the team to make improvements and solidify their place atop the NFC East and potentially go on to win in the Conference Finals.

Lock Down the Big Guns

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason?

@Randy81MossRetires, via Twitter

Many see DeMarcus Lawrence as the top potential free agent this spring, so the Dallas Cowboys need to do everything in their power to lock down the 26-year-old defensive end.

Vice President Stephen Jones has emphasized the team’s target of retaining their own stars, per Star-Telegram, with Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and perhaps Byron Jones being in the discussion for long-term deals.

As it stands, the team will have roughly $48.5 million in cap space for next season, which leaves plenty of space to re-sign their top players. They look set to let go of Tavon Austin, David Irving, and quite possibly Cole Beasley, among others, leaving a need to add reinforcements.

Adding New Talent

Can the Cowboys Become Legitimate NFC Conference Contenders this Offseason? 1

@brkicks, via Twitter

One of the most heavily rumored moves for Dallas in this free agency is picking up native Texan and former Legion of Boom linchpin Earl Thomas, per Forbes.

Against the Rams in the playoffs and throughout the season, the Cowboys lacked a defenseman who could make plays on the pass. Thomas is one of the notorious ball hawks in the league, boasting 28 career interceptions, three of which came in just four games of last season.

If the Cowboys can re-sign their stars while keeping some space for an Earl Thomas-sized contract, which clocked in at $10.4 million in 2018 for the Seattle Seahawks, their odds of going all the way next season will significantly increase.

Right now, the expected names of the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lead the odds to win the next Super Bowl at +750. Behind them, the Rams sit at +900 having suffered a suffocating defeat in this year’s Super Bowl. Much further down are the Cowboys at +2500 right now with redbet. If they re-sign Lawrence, pay their young stars, and bring in Thomas, they’ll shoot up the table of favorites.

Then, there’s also the additions in the draft to consider.

The Cowboys may be without a first-round selection, but that may end up working in their favor. Round one of the 2019 NFL Draft is set to be laden with defensive selections according to most mock drafts, with a few quarterbacks sprinkled around and a minimal selection of offensive weapons. If the Cowboys re-sign Lawrence, they’ll be looking good at defensive end, so should then turn to giving Prescott another weapon in the passing game, which will also help to keep defenses honest and give Elliott more room to operate.

As stated, the NFL is a passing league, and Prescott exploded once he was given a viable option in Amari Cooper. Michael Gallup is expected to take another step forward next season, but just in case, the Cowboys can add another strong receiving option in the draft thanks to the strength of the defensive class. A.J. Brown of Ole Miss will almost certainly go in the first round, but exciting talents in D.K. Metcalf, Parris Campbell, Marquise Brown, and Deebo Samuel could all still be available when Dallas rings in during the second round.

Improving Dallas' pass options and pass defense will go a long way toward improving the team and allowing them to push on to a bigger and better campaign in 2019.



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