There's no doubt that DeMarcus Lawrence is the star of the Dallas Cowboys defensive line. And, of course, this praise is deserved. Lawrence is the top dog among this pass rushing group, and is on pace to once again lead the team in sacks for 2018.
Lawrence is not the only defensive lineman having himself a good year, however. And while Dallas boasts the names of players such as Randy Gregory and David Irving, it's been a more under-the-radar lineman who's been second best to Lawrence.
That player is veteran defensive tackle and end Tyrone Crawford.
Often criticized because of his lucrative contract, Tyrone Crawford had become sort of a punchline among the fanbase in recent years. But with his play this season Crawford has proved to be worth the price Dallas is paying, even if his contract number is still high.
So far this season Tyrone Crawford has 30 tackles, 4 for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 11 quarterback hits. These numbers make him second on the team to only DeMarcus Lawrence in both sacks and quarterback hits, showing just how disruptive he has been on the year.
Even when he's not filling the stat sheet Crawford proves how valuable he is to the defense as a whole. A Swiss-Army knife type of defensive lineman, Crawford can move through all four positions on the line without looking out of place. No, he doesn't have the power of a traditional tackle or the burst of a pass rushing end, but he is just an all-around solid football player who makes his presence felt every week.
Last week, during the Cowboys' dominating defensive performance over the New Orleans Saints, Tyrone Crawford only finished with 4 tackles, but each seemed to come during a massive moment in the game.
More Tyrone Crawford!!! #CowboysNation
Great 2nd effort to stay in play and prevent a Kamara cutback after Leighton Vander Esch blows up the LG and ruins Kamara's rushing lane.
Excellent teamwork. pic.twitter.com/Jlkbv0WGuM
— Matt Waldman (@MattWaldman) December 2, 2018
Following Amari Cooper's fumble the Saints had a big fourth and goal from inside the Cowboys' 2 yard line. Normally, this situation is an inevitable touchdown for the Saints, but thanks to the combination of Tyrone Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence (as well as Vander Esch of course), Dallas stood tall and made the goal line stop.
As can be seen in the video, Crawford does a fantastic job of stoning the offensive lineman and knocking him off balance. This helps to create penetration and force Alvin Kamara to look for a cutback lane. Thanks to Lawrence and Vander Esch on the backside, however, there is no cutback lane to be found.
This is unbelievable team defense in a huge spot, and it's Tyrone Crawford who led the way.
Not only is Crawford a valuable member of this defense on the field, but his leadership can't be understated either. A captain once again in 2018, Tyrone Crawford is respected by his teammates on both sides of the ball.
And it's time that as a fan base we recognize how Crawford is performing as well.