It has been a horrifically long bye week for the Dallas Cowboys – losers of two straight ahead of their week seven showdown in San Francisco. Conceding at least 30 points in consecutive home losses to the Rams and Packers, the Cowboys' defense has rightfully been heavily criticized. One player that has shattered expectations for Rod Marinelli's unit is DE DeMarcus Lawrence, selected by Bleacher Report NFL Scout Doug Farrar as the team's “most promising young player” as part of the NFL1000 scouting series.
The Cowboys' pass rush was expected to once again hold them back in 2017 – a young, surging team otherwise ready to compete in the playoffs following a 13-3 record and NFC East title last season. Instead, the NFL's sack leader in DeMarcus Lawrence has led a deep rotation of linemen in Dallas to 16 total sacks, good for seventh in the league.
Getting to opposing quarterbacks eight and a half times in five games (and at least once each week), a healthy Tank Lawrence is finally giving the Cowboys a defensive player that offenses need to game plan against.
As Farrar writes:
Lawrence’s bounce-back in 2017 has been remarkable—he already has a league-leading 8.5 sacks and 31 total pressures in just 152 pass-rushing snaps. Lawrence’s violent hands are his best asset; he uses his hands better than most young defensive linemen to disengage from blockers, and his active feet keep him in every play. Now, Lawrence is living up to his tremendous athletic potential.
Looking past second-year players Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott on offense may be difficult at first when identifying the Dallas Cowboys' most promising players. While it is the overall youth of this team, especially at QB, RB, and across the OL that should put a 2-3 start to 2017 in perspective, watching the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Maliek Collins, and Tyrone Crawford set the tone up front provides hope that this season will get back on track in a big way starting Sunday.
Lawrence is having the season of his life in a contract year, and while the Cowboys' financial model under Stephen Jones has swung towards less spending in free agency it would be foolish not to expect Jerry Jones to keep his latest “war daddy” in the silver and blue.
For Cowboys Nation, watching this team generate a consistent pass rush is a beautifully unnatural site. As the Cowboys offense continues to dominate, a defense led by the promising DeMarcus Lawrence – realizing his full potential at the age of 25 – will have a chance to fully show off their offense's brilliance by finally stopping the team across from them this week.