With 38 team sacks in 2017, the Dallas Cowboys surpassed their 2016 total of 36 and turned pass rush into one of their strengths. With a career-high 14.5 sacks, Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence led the way as one of the most productive and consistent players on the whole roster.
Compiling just 11 sacks over their final eight games though, the Cowboys’ defensive line may still be far from the game-wrecking force it could be with the addition of more young talent.
The Cowboys sack production in 2017 again came without much of an impact from the RDE position.
Benson Mayowa, last year’s sack-leader from this position, finished with just one sack over the same volume of snaps in 2017.
First-round draft pick Taco Charlton originally started at right end, and later moved behind Lawrence at LDE to finish his first season strong with three sacks.
Tyrone Crawford also proved an effective player — mainly against the run — on the far-right side of the Dallas defensive line. It was effectively his third position in three years after going from 3T DT to LDE, and then across to RDE.
Slotted to pick 19th overall at the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft, defensive end may still be one of the Cowboys biggest needs.
Signing Lawrence to a long-term deal with be a priority this offseason, as should adding real talent around him.
There’s no question Rod Marinelli’s defense carried the offense through plenty of games down the stretch, the best they could as the team fell short of the playoffs. Looking to turn the corner thanks to investments made at the draft in the secondary last year, the Cowboys could quickly return to a league power should they sustain this defensive level.
Being able to force tight throws into coverage while being even better at pressuring the quarterback — ideally, all while solving their offensive woes and putting up big totals again soon — is the best way for the Cowboys to find themselves in the playoffs next season.
Pass rushers close out games, the best ones win their team games. Having already used a recent first-round pick at the position, the Cowboys can no longer sell their fans on untapped potential up front defensively.
The likes of Mayowa and Charles Tapper should be viewed only as ideal rotational pieces to rush behind another true starter that is lacking on this line.
In position to add a first round EDGE like Marcus Davenport, Arden Key, or Harold Landry should they choose to in April, the Cowboys continuing to win games with defense by making quarterbacking against them a nightmare could become a common sight.
With adjustments also needed on their star-driven offensive line, this is truly an offseason for the Dallas Cowboys to remember, games are won and lost in the trenches.