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Is Defensive End Still a Top Need for Cowboys?

Sean Martin

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Is Defensive End Still A Top Need For Cowboys?

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.

Cowboys en Español: El Futuro de David Irving y DeMarcus Lawrence

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence (Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports)

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.

Tell us what you think about “Is Defensive End Still a Top Need for Cowboys?” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

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2 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    Of course its still a need. They stuggled with mobile qbs and they also struggled when Demarcus got double teamed. If your settled on Irving playing inside then you need another physical force on the edge opposite D Law to complement Taco either through free agency and/or the draft

  • Russ_Te

    Taco is a clear LDE and pretty much showed that down the stretch. I feel pretty good now about his development curve should Lawrence be sacrificed in FA. The anchor right now is Irving inside. That has to hold up, and then the DL can be built from there. Collins disappoints so far but he is still a young player, and might have another stage to his future game, like Lawrence did.

    Draft priority IMO:

    OL / OT
    WR
    RDE
    LB

    An impact player from one of those is likely to fall to the Cowboys. That’s who I take – best available

Dallas Cowboys

Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

Sean Martin

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Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

After hiring Paul Alexander to fill their vacant OL coaching position, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing to retool their offensive staff below Scott Linehan. Sanjay Lal has been hired to coach the Cowboys’ wide receivers, replacing Derek Dooley.

Lal has experience as a WR coach with four different teams, dating back to 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted up to this position after serving as the Raiders’ quality control coach from 2007-08.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys have reached an agreement with Sanjay Lal to become the team’s WR coach. Lal was with Indianapolis last season and replaces Derek Dooley on the staff.

Most recently, Sanjay Lal coached the receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He has also been with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

In this interview with the Colts, Lal mentions being very detail-oriented with a focus on the technical aspects of playing receiver.

Lal beats out former Cowboys WR Miles Austin for this position, earning the right to lead a room of receivers in desperate need of fresh talent. In an offseason that’s been about finding fresh ideas with the coaching staff so far though, the Cowboys have a new voice on offense.

Tell us what you think about “Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts

Jess Haynie

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Matt Eberflus, Sean Lee

Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense.

He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now.

If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position.

Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee.

He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football.

Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season.

Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot.

Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here.

Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to.

It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator.

Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most.

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.

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