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

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

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.

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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!

Sean Martin

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we’re not how you think we are. Host of “Upon Further Review” on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

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