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Film Room: Despite Penalties, La’el Collins Continues To Improve At RT

Kevin Brady

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La'el Collins

Moving positions on the offensive line isn't easy. Even a change from left guard to right guard can be a headache for most players, so imagine how tough the adjustment from left guard to right tackle must be.

Switching your stance, footwork, and playing style can be challenging for an offensive lineman, and in the case of La'el Collins there certainly have been some growing pains.

Saturday night's battle with All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack was built up as Collins' first real test. An entire half against one of the best edge rushers the league has to offer. After the game, many were disappointed in Collins' performance, mostly due to him being flagged on three occasions.

After reviewing the film, however, I believe Saturday provided reason for optimism about Collins' switch to right tackle.

dalvsoak mack - Streamable

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One of the major concerns I had with Collins moving to right tackle was with his patience in his pass set. Collins has been caught leaning at times, allowing good edge rushers to swipe his hands and fly by him. Sometimes, offensive tackles will turn their shoulders in their pass set attempting to overcompensate for the rusher's speed.

Both of these issues have to do with patience in pass protection. On Saturday night, La'el Collins remained patient, hitting his landmarks more consistently than he has all preseason. This allowed him to push Mack past the pocket, as he does on this rep.

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Here we see Collins survive a strong initial strike from the defensive end by re-anchoring and sinking his hips. A key to Collins succeeding in this position switch will be to trust his coaching and technique. Despite losing at the point of attack initially here, he remained calm and trusted what he has been taught to do. A rep like this was great to see from La'el Collins.

Two of the three penalties called on Collins were for illegal hands to the face. I see two reasons for these flags. First off, I think he was tired. Early in the game he was pretty consistent with his hands, delivering a solid punch and hitting his spots. As the game wore on, however, those punches became more inconsistent. This could also be the reason his right hand seems to drop in his pass set at times.

Second, he just needs more work. With more reps and practice, I believe La'el will get this punch right. While he did have these problems with his punch, Collins' lower half looked better than it ever has last week.

Though Collins doesn't always look that smooth in his set, often appearing awkward with his feet and hands, he was able to get the job done against Mack rather consistently. And that is certainly encouraging.

Overall I think La'el Collins showed some good signs on Saturday night, and is certainly worthy of starting at right tackle this season. He will be tested early and often this year, as the Cowboys open up against the Giants and Broncos, each possessing impressive pass rushing units.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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4 Comments
  • Randy Martin

    I appreciate you shedding the proper light on this. Others have criticized his play in the game because of the penalties but it needs perspective and you gave that here. After one of the drives ended and he came to the sideline he was huffing and puffing. The great thing about this game is he faced one of the best in the business in Mack and didn’t give up a sack and aside from the penalties had a pretty good game.

    • https://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com Kevin Brady

      Thanks for reading, Randy. I think with continued practice Collins will get it right. He’s too talented not to.

  • Russ_Te

    He is far more athletic than Free, just as powerful and when he gets his coaching down, Collins should bring an upgrade at RT. And I wasn’t convinced he was staying healthy at LG, so it’s better IMO in that regard also. Less punishment than inside.

    I saw Cooper swing to C at some point later in one of the PS games. I like that, but the fact he hasn’t beaten Green out for LG – comports to his struggles in the NFL. Supposed to have the talent, maybe not the motor or the smarts.

    Pretty sure Noah Brown is on the team as WR #6. They might have to try shopping Williams for a proven LG.

    • https://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com Kevin Brady

      I agree that in a vacuum, Chaz Green is the better option at guard. His health is a serious concern, however, so that will probably sway the decision. Both Green and Cooper offer important position versatility as well.

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Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense

John Williams

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Maliek Collins

For the Dallas Cowboys on the interior, a lot of the news consistently surround the availability of Defensive Tackle David Irving, but Maliek Collins is playing excellent right now. While I'm willing to be very patient with Irving because of the elite talent he brings, Maliek Collins should continue to start for the Dallas Cowboys at 3-technique defensive tackle.

Collins has been a player that the Cowboys have bounced between the nose tackle and the 3T position with the hopes of getting their best players on the field, and because of the lack of a consistent presence at the 1-technique or nose tackle position. Well, with Antwaun Woods taking control at the 1T, Collins has been able to play at the position where he's at his best. The 3-tech.

He hasn't put huge numbers in the sack column this season, but that doesn't mean he's been absent from being the disruptive player he's been through his first two and a half seasons.

During the Dallas Cowboys five game winning streak, Maliek Collins has led the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in total pressures with 13, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF combines sacks, quarterback hits, and hurries into their "pressures." Collins hasn't recorded a sack during the winning streak, but he has four quarterback hits and nine hurries. He's tied with Tyrone Crawford for third in total pressures behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory over the last five weeks.

Over the last five weeks, Collins leads the defensive tackles in solo tackles with five and is tied with Crawford and Antwaun Woods with three run stops on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Collins has also has two tackles for loss in the last five games and recovered Tyrone Crawford's force fumble on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Collins had six sacks in his rookie season when he played primarily as the 3T, which allowed him to see more one-on-one blocks against opposing interior offensive linemen. Especially with the way the rest of the defensive line is playing.

With the Cowboys on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, Collins is going to have a tough matchup with a very good Colts offensive line, in particular, rookie Quentin Nelson. Collins ability to get pressure on Andrew Luck on the interior is a huge key for the Dallas Cowboys this week. We know that Gregory and Lawrence will get their pressures, but if Andrew Luck is able to step up into a clean pocket, it will make for a much more challenging game for the Cowboys secondary.

Collins has proved to be up to any task over the last five weeks and if he's able to keep playing at such a high level, he'll make the Cowboys coaching staff, and the rest of Cowboys Nation forget about using other defensive tackles. For the Cowboys to make a deep push in the playoffs, they'll need Collins to be a big time player for them moving forward.



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Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018

Jess Haynie

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Amari Cooper

For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.

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After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote

As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.

His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!



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David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?

Sean Martin

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David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle David Irving, once a key member of the team's defense, will not make his return after all against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. For the second straight week, Irving was reportedly trending towards suiting up before being ruled out. The Cowboys haven't missed his unique presence for 13 weeks (playing against the Jaguars and Redskins), including through an ongoing four game win streak that began with a win against these Eagles on the road.

In that road win, veteran Tyrone Crawford recorded a sack and three tackles, while Antwaun Woods added two for a Dallas defense that held Philadelphia to 23 first downs and 71 rushing yards. The Eagles managed to cross the Cowboys' 30-yard line just four times.

There are many scenarios in which the Cowboys could have cut ties with Irving for not being worth the off-field trouble he's caused - beginning the season with a four game suspension. The absolute best case scenario is what they've realized amidst this turnaround, with other defensive linemen taking advantage of the opportunity left behind by Irving.

While it can still be true that Irving would make more splash plays than the likes of Crawford, Woods, Maliek Collins, and Caraun Reid, this defensive tackle group deserves praise for their ability to step in. Pass rush ability is one thing teams can't have enough of, and the Cowboys are missing some with Irving, finding ways to win thanks to the other traits these defenders bring to the table.

Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard may effectively be the team's defensive coordinator with an emphasis on the back seven, but DC Rod Marinelli's impact is still felt - particularly up front. Regardless of where they're lined up and deployed, the Cowboys front four is expected to be disruptive on every snap, something this scrappy unit excels at.

Prepared once again to play on the edge this season, Crawford is thriving at his original position of 3T-DT. Crawford has two sacks, nine total tackles, and three other hits on the quarterback over the past four weeks. Leading by example with a relentless spirit on every play, Crawford has meant just as much to the Cowboys defensive ends as Irving could.

In a short period of time, the Cowboys have gone from building up Irving thanks to his transcendent ability to make those around him better to simply -- and importantly -- being better across the defense.

Led by DeMarcus Lawrence as their premier rusher, the Cowboys defensive line is a lot for opposing offenses to contain. The "Hot Boyz" work up front has allowed Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to play fast and make plays all over the field.

Maliek Collins, battling back from his second broken foot in three years, is proving again he's a patented Marinelli guy. Collins' play speaks for itself when considering if the Nebraska product is best as a 3T or 1T tackle. Wherever he's asked to play, Collins creates penetration with an explosive first step and can finish at the quarterback with an array of power rush moves.

At 7-5 and fighting for their playoff lives, the Cowboys are done making excuses on the 2018 season. Their strides on defense speak for themselves, and with a group that keeps Dallas in every game they'll play, the door remains open for David Irving to earn snaps again when ready.

The Cowboys don't know any better than their play without Irving right now, and as winners of four straight, it's worth questioning if we'll see Irving over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Tell us what you think about "David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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