In DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, the 2018 Dallas Cowboys have a pair of defensive ends that are playing excellent football right now and trending up as they head into their matchup with the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson this week.
DeMarcus Lawrence is one of the best 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL and finished the season with 10.5 sacks according to Pro Football Reference. Though the sack numbers are down from a year ago, when he finished second in the NFL in sacks, he remains one of the more dominant defenders in the NFL.
Per Pro Football Focus, among defensive ends Lawrence finished the regular season with sixth in the NFL in tackles, tied for seventh in forced fumbles, fifth in “stops,” which is a play that resulted in a loss for the defense. Pro Football Reference had Lawrence graded the seventh best EDGE player in the NFL this season.
Randy Gregory finished the 2018 season, his first season where he played more than 12 games, with six sacks. All six of those sacks came from week six on. He's come on strong down the stretch, totaling 15 quarterback pressures over the last four weeks, which is 20th in the NFL in that time span, but the same amount as TJ Watt, more than DeMarcus Lawrence, and one behind Joey Bosa. Over the last four weeks, Gregory's been graded better than JJ Watt and DeMarcus Lawrence as a pass rusher by Pro Football Focus.
We know who DeMarcus Lawrence is at this point in his career and this offseason, he's going to be paid like one of the best 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL, as he should be. Randy Gregory has been the player this season that the Dallas Cowboys thought he could be when they drafted him in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft despite failing a drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. Both players had rocky starts to their career, Lawrence because of injury and a suspension, and Gregory's suspension issues, but both are rewarding the Cowboys patience this season.
It feels like it's been forever since the Dallas Cowboys could boast two very good to great pass rushers on the edges like they have in DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory this year. They'll have a difficult challenge ahead of them this week as they face Russell Wilson. Though he was the fourth highest sacked quarterback this season, he's still one of the more difficult players to get to because of his mobility and improvisational ability.
Russell Wilson's a quarterback who is used to playing under pressure as the Seattle Seahawks have boasted some terrible offensive lines over the last few years. Wilson is a quarterback who handles the pressure well. According to Pro Football Focus, among quarterbacks with at least 374 drop backs this season, Wilson had the fourth highest quarterback rating when under pressure at 86.2.
The Cowboys defense will have a tall task in front of them this week as they face one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL. In DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, the Cowboys finally have a defensive end duo that is going to be able to keep Wilson contained and to put effective pressure on Russell Wilson.