The NFC Defensive Player of the Week, DE DeMarcus Lawrence is quickly proving that – when healthy – he can be the war daddy the Dallas Cowboys need rushing the passer. With 6.5 sacks through three games, Lawrence is reminding the NFL world how disruptive he can be at the LDE position, doing so primarily lined up next to another budding star on Dallas' defensive front in 3T DT Maliek Collins.
Coming into this season, Collins was one of the only certainties for the Cowboys' defensive line. Even entering just his second season, Collins has lived up to the expectations he set himself following a rookie campaign that saw the third round pick dominate at the most critical position in Rod Marinelli's scheme.
Now, the Cowboys can be legitimately excited about the future they have in both Lawrence at defensive end – a free agent after this season – and Collins at defensive tackle.
DeMarcus Lawrence on seeing double teams: "As long as my 3-technique do what he needs to do, I'm always going to be free. So thanks Maliek."
Against the Cardinals, Lawrence constantly pressured Carson Palmer by taking advantage of his favorable match up off the strong side. Maliek Collins also added two sacks and was credited with five total tackles, charging up field or twisting on T/E stunts to free up the Cowboys' premier pass rusher in Tank Lawrence all night long.
The lone weak spot on the Cowboys' defensive line remains the RDE position. When DeMarcus Lawrence put up a career high eight sacks in 2015 (the only season he's played a full 16 games in), it was of course Greg Hardy drawing blocking attention on the opposite edge during his lone season in Dallas.
The quality of play at the weak side DE position can only improve for the Cowboys as this season goes on, as Benson Mayowa looks to once again find his groove while Taco Charlton, Charles Tapper and Damontre Moore work themselves into the rotation.
Here's the All-22 of DeMarcus Lawrence's second sack. pic.twitter.com/sOfUrf1coO
The versatility the rest of this group provides down the line, starting with the flourishing combination of Maliek Collins and DeMarcus Lawrence, is enough to get excited about for Cowboys Nation – as David Irving returns from suspension next week to further strengthen the depth at DT and LDE.
Being stout up front is crucial for any defense that wants to contend for a Super Bowl, and the Cowboys expected this to be a team strength thanks to Maliek Collins, Stephen Paea, and Sean Lee up the middle. DeMarcus Lawrence has been a pleasant surprise at one of the most important positions in all of football though, wrecking offenses however Marinelli sees fit as the edge rusher he was at Boise State back in 2014 – as the Cowboys traded up in the second round to land their next dominant pass rusher, finally seeing these results early in 2017.