Connect with us

Player News

Reel Talk: Could DeMarcus Lawrence Fill the Cowboys Void at Right Defensive End?

Sean Martin

Published

on

Cowboys Headlines - Reel Talk: Could DeMarcus Lawrence Fill the Cowboys Void at Right Defensive End? 2

The Dallas Cowboys are in uncharted waters entering week 5 of their 2016 season, not only staying relevant without Tony Romo but thriving with rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

A lot of this credit goes to Rod Marinelli's defensive unit, which has managed to do its job of bending but not breaking despite playing without DeMarcus Lawrence - Dallas' best pass rusher.

Lawrence, the third-year player, will return this week off of his four game suspension to make his 2016 debut at home against the Bengals. How much he will play is still a great unknown, along with what position he will even line up at.

Where the Cowboys could use him the most is obvious, as Jack Crawford, Ryan Davis, and Benson Mayowa have not been getting the job done at the right defensive end position. Over on the left side, where Lawrence broke out in 2015, Dallas has Tyrone Crawford and David Irving to stack up against the run and provide some pass rush ability.

https://bumpers.fm/e/avqt657dl8mg00rg3bn0

You can listen to this post on Bumpers from RJ Ochoa - Inside The Star Staff Writer, RJ Ochoa Show Host, and OchoLive Host!

In this edition of Reel Talk we'll study the tape from the last time DeMarcus Lawrence lined up primarily at RDE - 2014. We'll take a look at what the then-rookie brought to the table in order to predict where he could make the most impact this season after playing exclusively LDE in 2015.

Is That All You Got?

 

 

A far too familiar sight when watching Lawrence rush off the weak side edge was seeing him get steered around the back of the pocket thanks to incredibly predictable pass rush moves and inconsistent power and bend. On this play above, Lawrence tries to speed rush up the field to set up the left tackle, but fails to put himself in a position to work himself back inside to the football.

When things came around for Lawrence last season as a LDE, it was because he thrived on using his long arms to dominate right tackles at the point of attack and be a force against the run with the ability to get to the quarterback. Working on the right side, it has never consistently looked comfortable for Lawrence to use all of his skills and make an impact on the game.

As you'll see Lawrence again gets pushed behind the pocket on this next clip, I'll explain why there actually is some positives to take away from this play when it comes to looking ahead at Lawrence playing in 2016.

Lawrence's Progress

 

 

On this play, Lawrence puts the tackle out of position after holding the edge much better with a more powerful move off the snap. Unfortunately, he is not able to bend and change directions quickly to finish off the play to the inside, allowing the left tackle to recover and take him out of the play.

In 2015, we saw Lawrence make this play on the other side of the field numerous times, improving his agility and balance greatly. If he can translate that to his development as a RDE, Lawrence can absolutely have success at this position that is hampering the Cowboys' defense.

 

 

Here is Lawrence making a play against the run from the weak side, one that Cowboys Nation became accustomed to from #90 in 2015 on the strong side. Typically these plays from the left side by Lawrence began with him blowing up his blocker, but stronger left tackles have fared better against D-Law.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the Cowboys are in a tough spot when it comes to lining up their best pass rusher in DeMarcus Lawrence moving forward. While I do think he can be an above average RDE in this league over time, the Cowboys don't necessarily have the luxury to watch their 2014 second round pick try to continue to develop at a spot that may not suit him.

While the need at RDE is glaring, Lawrence proved to be a long term answer at LDE last season. For a team that has struggled to find consistency across the entirety of the defensive line, that certainly should be worth something.

Wherever he plays, the Dallas Cowboys simply have to hope Lawrence is ready to make a big impact. Of course, his biggest play to date with America's Team was the one below, coming off the right edge for this crucial sack of Matt Stafford to seal the 2014 NFC Wild Card game.

 

Use the comment section below to weigh in with your thoughts on where DeMarcus Lawrence should line up moving forward for the Cowboys. You can also email me about this edition of "Reel Talk" at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com.

Tell us what you think about "Reel Talk: Could DeMarcus Lawrence Fill the Cowboys Void at Right Defensive End?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Player News

Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip

Mauricio Rodriguez

Published

on

Next Day Rant: Cowboys Drafting LB Vander Esch Looks Pretty Smart Now

Dallas Cowboys' rookie Leighton Vander Esch has done enough to prove every single doubter wrong. When Roger Goodell called his name during the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, Texas, many in Cowboys Nation rejoiced at the thought of having a young linebacker for a defense surrounded with uncertainty. However, many analysts doubted the draft pick. For a lot of people (sadly, I include myself in this category), the pick should've been used on another player. For most, despite acknowledging his raw talent, Vander Esch wouldn't be able to provide the Cowboys with an instant impact player. Ah, well.

After a remarkable season, Vander Esch (a.k.a. Wolf Hunter) has earned a spot on this season's second-team All-Pro. When the Pro Bowl voting began, Vander Esch was snubbed from the ballot itself. It didn't took the NFL long to realize their mistake and add the Cowboys' linebacker to the list. Despite missing the cut at first, Vander Esch will be heading to Orlando to play in this year's Pro Bowl on January 27th.

https://twitter.com/dallascowboys/status/1085291591399546880?s=21

The former Boise State Bronco will be replacing Carolina Panthers' LB Luke Kuechly, who won't be participating because of an injury.

Vander Esch racked up 140 tackles (per Pro Football Reference), ranking third in the league in this category. He finished the season as the fifth best linebacker in Pro Football Focus' rankings.

But numbers aren't really enough to fully appreciate what Vander Esch did for the Dallas Cowboys. A team that was used to seeing its defense break when veteran Sean Lee went down injured, did not only get someone to fill in for Lee. Vander Esch actually upgraded the Cowboys' defense. It didn't matter where the ball went, he was always around when opponents were tackled. His speed and chance of direction allowed him to run sideline to sideline, covering a huge portion of the field.

Along Jaylon Smith, Dallas managed to have one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.

The last time a defensive rookie from the Cowboys went to the Pro Bowl was in 1981, when Everson Walls made the team. Vander Esch is the 11th rookie in team history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. This year, the rookie will be accompanied by DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Ezekiel Elliott.

Tell me what you think about "Leighton Vander Esch To Top Rookie Season With Pro Bowl Trip" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



Continue Reading

Player News

Cowboys Expect C Travis Frederick Back for Offseason Program

Jess Haynie

Published

on

Travis Frederick

Lost in yesterday's hoopla over Scott Linehan's return was a positive report about Center Travis Frederick. In his comments to the media, Jason Garrett said that Frederick's recovery timetable should allow him to a full participant in the team's offseason program.

After never missing a start in his first five years, Travis missed all of 2018 dealing with the effects of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The disease attacked his neurological system and required immediate and intensive treatment.

Rob Phillips on Twitter

Jason Garrett says the team anticipates Travis Frederick being involved in the offseason program right from the start this spring if he continues on the same positive track in recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. #cowboyswire

While Joe Looney performed admirably in Frederick's absence, he's not an elite talent. Travis has been arguably the best center in the NFL since entering the league in 2013.

It's hard to qualify what effect not having Frederick had on the Cowboys offense in 2018. Ezekiel Elliott still led the league in rushing, but short-yardage plays weren't as automatic as we've seen in past years. A 4th-and-1 stuff was part of what led to the Cowboys' loss this past Saturday.

Dak Prescott was the second-most sacked QB in the NFL in 2018. After being sacked just 25 and 32 times in his first two seasons, the number skyrocketed to 56 sacks.

That's not all on Frederick, of course. Tyron Smith had some health issues and there were was turnover at left guard.

But having your All-Pro veteran center out there to help with the pre-snap reads, and help the rookie guard on his left, might have helped avoid some of those issues.

Indeed, Travis Frederick's return is just one of many reasons for optimism with the 2019 season. One of the best players on the team, he was sorely missed this year and can only help as Dallas looks to build on their division title and playoff appearance.



Continue Reading

Player News

For Cowboys to Beat the Rams, Dak Prescott must Lead the Way

John Williams

Published

on

Playoff Scenarios Aim Towards Seahawks vs Cowboys in Wild Card

In the NFL wins and losses often come down to quarterback play. That isn't to say that if a team wins, it was all because of the quarterback and inversely, if a team loses that it was all on the quarterback. Teams win or lose games. Generally speaking, however, the quarterback has the highest amount of influence on the outcome of an NFL game. This will be no different for the Dallas Cowboys this Saturday when they take on the Los Angeles Rams in the LA Coliseum. For America's Team to make their first trip to the NFC Championship Game since 1996, Dak Prescott has to have a good game.

This looks to be a good matchup for the Dallas Cowboys offense, which should allow Dak Prescott and the Cowboys to take advantage in certain areas.

A few Rams Passing Game Notes

  • The Los Angeles Rams were middle of the pack against the pass this season, allowing the 14th fewest passing yards in the league this season.
  • The Rams allowed 7.7 yards per attempt. Dak Prescott is averaging 7.6 yards per attempt since week 10 of the season.
  • The Rams allowed the eighth most passing touchdowns in the NFL this season. They and the New Orleans Saints are the only teams in the top 10 of passing touchdowns allowed in the playoffs this season.
  • The Rams were 15th in the NFL in sacks, with 41, but Aaron Donald accounted for half of that with 20.5 sacks on the season. No other player had more than five sacks.
  • They were third in the NFL in interceptions, collecting 18.
  • The Rams allowed the ninth highest yards per completion on the season at 11.8. So on average, every completion went for a first down.

Dak Prescott is playing as well as any quarterback in the playoffs at the moment. Over the last nine games, he's averaging 272 passing yards, two total touchdowns, was only intercepted four times, and was sacked on average 3.2 times per game.

On Saturday night, we saw Scott Linehan put the ball in his hands on a couple designed runs that nearly scored touchdowns. It was an excellent addition to the offense that could help fix the Cowboys red zone woes. Getting Dak Prescott running on some designed runs or quarterback draws could help slow down Aaron Donald and the pass rush.

The Cowboys needed every bit of Dak Prescott magic to overcome a stingy Seattle Seahawks defense in their Wild Card win and they'll need him to step up again this week against the Rams. Every team is going to attempt to take away the running game to make Dak beat you and as he continues to mature, he's getting more and more comfortable doing that. He's comfortable with the big stage and the big moments.

NFL Research on Twitter

Dak Prescott Since 2016, including playoffs * 15 game-winning drives (Most in NFL) * 13 primetime QB wins (Most in NFL) * 19 rush TD (Most in NFL by QB) #DallasCowboys @dak

No Quarterback in the NFL has more game winning drives, rushing touchdowns, or wins in primetime than Dak Prescott. When we talk about Dak Prescott, we talk a lot about the things that he can't do as a passer and deservedly so, he still has some growing to do in that area, but in the things that you can't objectively quantify -- mental toughness, resiliency, clutchness, will, determination -- Dak is one of the best in the NFL. He's as mentally tough as they come in the NFL and he doesn't let the spotlight or the game situation phase him. He has that stuff that's hard to put your finger on.

The Dallas Cowboys will need more of that on Saturday night in Los Angeles. The Rams can score and can score in bunches and if the Cowboys defense starts sluggish or has an off night, they'll need Dak Prescott to keep them in the game. Even if the defense has a good game, Dak still has to come through in the passing game and on the ground to give the Cowboys a chance to pull off the upset.

The Dallas Cowboys are going to try to run the ball against the Rams on Saturday. That's their identity; run the ball, control the clock, and be efficient in the passing game. Prescott, either with his legs or with his arm will have to make some plays to extend drives and keep the Rams offense on the sideline. He'll need to be sharp in the red zone to convert those opportunities into touchdowns. Settling for field goals against the Rams is how the Cowboys get beat.

This matchup with the Rams looks to set up nicely for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, yet how things look on paper doesn't mean much when the lights go on and the whistle blows. It's a big stage and it's another win-or-go-home game for the Cowboys (like every game has been over the last nine weeks). In a big game, you need big time players, and the Cowboys have one in quarterback Dak Prescott.



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

Trending