The Cowboys defensive line has rushed the passer through three games much better than anyone expected. DeMarcus Lawrence is now the reigning defensive player of the week, sacking Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer multiple times and abusing offensive tackles during the entire month of September.
No matter how you feel about the players Dallas has upfront, they have certainly gotten the job done so far this season. The only knock you could have is, the tackles they’ve faced haven’t been very good.
And, I have to admit, that is true.
The New York Giants have possibly the worst tackle combination in football. The Denver Broncos have improved on their offensive line, but their interior is where their strength is. And the Cardinals right tackle, Jared Veldheer, looked like he was playing with cinder blocks attached to his feet.
Enter the Los Angeles Rams.
Surprisingly, the Rams look to boast a dynamic offensive unit this year. Todd Gurley looks to have re-gained his rookie form, Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods are both impressive wide-outs, and Jared Goff is having a great start to his Sophomore season.
On top of all that, the Rams bring the biggest challenge yet to Lawrence and the Cowboys defensive ends. Well, at least on the left side.
Signing former Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth has helped Los Angeles protect Goff’s blindside adequately this season. Whitworth is a three time Pro Bowler, and while he is 35 years old, he has still had himself a nice stretch of games to open the year.
Andrew Whitworth so far with the Rams 0 pressures allowed Week 1 1 pressure allowed Week 2 0 pressures allowed tonight
According to Pro Football Focus, Whitworth has allowed the fewest quarterback pressures of any offensive tackle. Of course, you take any PFF stat with a grain of salt, but regardless Whitworth has been having an impressive season.
At right tackle stands Rob Havenstein, the third year lineman out of Wisconsin. Havenstein has struggled at times during his young career, and was expected to move inside to guard during the offseason. Lacking a viable replacement at right tackle, however, the Rams had to stick with Havenstein.
Personally, I expect DeMarcus Lawrence to give Havenstein some real problems on Sunday afternoon. Though some have pointed towards improvement for Havenstein this year, he is not equipped to stop Lawrence for four straight quarters. Lawrence should be able to get after Goff and give the Rams offense issues.
Damontre Moore and Benson Mayowa taking on Andrew Whitworth will be a much more interesting match up, as Whitworth is probably the best tackle the Cowboys have had to face all season.