Connect with us

Star Blog

Interesting Personnel Combinations for Cowboys Defensive Line




Cowboys' Pass Rush: Who Will Be QB Sack Leader In 2017?
Jeff Hanisch - USA TODAY Sports

There are a bunch of new faces along Dallas Cowboys the defensive line this year, as well as plenty of familiar ones. If there is one thing to remember with this defensive line it's that there is no real stud, but also no real push over.

Starting with the familiar faces: Tyrone Crawford, David Irving, DeMarcus Lawrence, Benson Mayowa, Maliek Collins, and Cedric Thornton; these guys will carry a bulk of the responsibility early on, teaching the younger guys the ways of the Cowboys QB Hunters.

Cowboys Minicamp: Taco Charlton Impresses At LDE, Who Emerges At RDE? 3

With Taco Charlton, Damontre Moore, Charles Tapper, Lenny Jones, Stephen Paea, and Lewis Neal finding their places, choosing a defensive line combination is the next step for Rod Marinelli.

Year after year we look for Rod to turn a nobody into a somebody, but I can confidently say that Marinelli has some talent to work with this year.

First, let's sort out our defensive lineman by position.

Defensive Ends

  • DeMarcus Lawrence
  • Taco Charlton
  • Benson Mayowa
  • Charles Tapper
  • Lenny Jones

Defensive Tackles

  • Maliek Collins
  • Cedric Thornton
  • Stephen Paea
  • Lewis Neal


  • David Irving
  • Tyrone Crawford
  • Damontre Moore

Now the reason I sorted these out is simple; the players above are listed with the position I see them playing the most of this year. The hybrids are players who will likely see time at both defensive tackle and defensive end.

David Irving would realistically be my best option at left end, but unfortunately he will be suspended the first four games of the regular season.

Damontre Moore would likely push for a starting spot but--like Irving--is serving a two game suspension.

Schemes and Concepts Chapter 2: The Base 4-3 1

Base 4-3 Defense

In a base 4-3 defense we have a right end, a one-technique, a three-technique, and a left end. In these base packages the best line in my opinion would look like this:

  • Tyrone Crawford - Left Defensive End
  • Maliek Collins - Three-Technique
  • Stephen Paea - One-Technique
  • DeMarcus Lawrence - Right Defensive End

Nickel Defense

The "nickel" defensive line normally looks a little bit different. In nickel the odds of the offensive play call being a pass is normally greater than a running play (due to the number of wide receivers). In these instances, the defense normally tries to put its best pass rushers on the field.

In the nickel packages (without Irving and Moore) the best combination could look something similar to this:

  • DeMarcus Lawrence - Left Defensive End
  • Taco Charlton - Three-Technique
  • Maliek Collins - One-Technique
  • Benson Mayowa - Right Defensive End

You won't see this defensive line much, due to the lack of size on the field to play the run, but when offenses are in passing situation this is certainly the Cowboys' best combination to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Run Stuffing Defense

Maliek Collins, Redskins

DT Maliek Collins (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

There do come instances in games where you have to totally change the defensive line to help stop the run. The Cowboys have the right bodies on their depth chart to do so.

In these instances look for the defensive line to look something similar to this:

  • Taco Charlton - Right Defensive End
  • Maliek Collins - Three-Technique
  • Stephen Paea - One-Technique
  • Tyrone Crawford - Left Defensive End

You might notice that this combination looks very similar to the base 4-3 defensive line, except Taco Charlton will slide in at right defensive end. Taco Charlton's length and power against the run is something that he can certainly bring to the table this year, making him a valuable option at defensive end in certain situations throughout games.

Not having David Irving and Damontre Moore on the field together until week five definitely hurts this football team.

Some may argue that Irving and Moore are the two most talented defensive lineman on the Cowboys' roster and I tend to agree with them. The combinations that can be had with both Irving and Moore in the lineup are almost endless.

David Irving

Both guys have the flexibility to play right end, left end, and three technique in certain situations.

Both play with a great amount of power that is difficult for offensive lineman to deal with. Irving's length makes it extra difficult for blockers to control such a long, powerful, and fast rusher.

When David Irving and Damontre Moore return from serving their suspension, the defensive line will really have nice puzzle pieces to play with.

In the base defense Irving will likely get the start at left defensive end with DeMarcus Lawrence at right end. In nickel situations Damontre Moore or David Irving could slide in and play the three-technique spot with Maliek Collins moved over to one-technique.

When the reinforcements do make their triumphant return the defensive line, I think the most effective combo would be:

  • DeMarcus Lawrence - Right End
  • Maliek Collins - One-Technique
  • Damontre Moore - Three-Technique
  • David Irving - Left End

What DL combination will be the most disruptive for opposing teams?

Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for and Catch me on twitter @ConnorNFLDraft!


Star Blog

Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019

Kevin Brady



Predicting Dallas Cowboys Roster Locks, Pre-Training Camp Edition
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.

After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.

But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."

The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.

Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).

The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.

This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.

These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.

Why The Numbers Expect Regression, But Success For Cowboys In 2017

Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.

Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.

Continue Reading

Star Blog

Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations

Kevin Brady



Robert Quinn
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.

The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.

And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.

“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.

Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.

"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told 

Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.

Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.

Continue Reading

Star Blog

Can Rookie OL Connor McGovern Compete For A Starting Spot?

Kevin Brady



Connor McGovern

Raising eyebrows in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys added Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern to their already deep OL depth chart.

McGovern, who played guard for the Nittany Lions, was reportedly by-far the best player remaining on the Cowboys draft board when they came on the clock in round three. Still, with seemingly more pressing needs yet to be addressed, Dallas' selection of McGovern was certainly a surprise.

When you watch the tape, though, you immediately see what the Cowboys loved about Connor McGovern.

A "plug-and-play" type guard, Connor McGovern is the type of rookie you'd expect to contribute in year one. On many teams he may be a candidate to start at guard or center from the beginning of his rookie season, but here in Dallas, his role for the 2019 season is somewhat in question.

Clearly, being a day two pick, there's no doubt that McGovern will make the Cowboys roster. But can he compete for a starting job?

During OTA's McGovern took reps at both guard and center, pointing towards the possibility of him being the first interior offensive lineman off the bench if one of the starters were to go down with an injury. Fellow interior linemen Joe Looney and Xavier Su'a-Filo each contributed in big ways during the 2018 season, however, and will be tough to beat out during camp.

Obviously McGovern won't be starting over All-Pros Travis Frederick and Zack Martin, but could he dethrone Connor Williams from his left guard position?

While possible, I would still say it's unlikely. The Cowboys selection of McGovern seems to be more about 2020 and beyond than it is about the 2019 season. With right tackle La'el Collins coming up on a contract year, Dallas might elect to let him walk in free agency, move Williams back to his college position of tackle, and slide McGovern into the left guard slot.

This seems fool-proof in theory, but this many moving parts across the offensive line could spell trouble early on in 2020. Regardless, Connor McGovern's arrival gives Dallas the flexibility to consider all options on their offensive line.

In reality, McGovern strengthened a strength for Dallas, and may be needed to prove himself as early as this Fall if injury issues arise.

Continue Reading

Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here