When the Dallas Cowboys acquired Defensive End Robert Quinn the thought was to pair him with All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence to form of the NFL’s best pass-rushing duos. The latter has struggled a bit during the first half of the season, while the former has shown the type of production that garnered him All-Pro honors back in 2013.
Things started a little rocky for Quinn in a Cowboys uniform. The “Black Cobra” as he’s been called by his new teammates not only broke a bone in his hand back in August, but he also was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the NFL’s PED policy. Nonetheless, Quinn has taken full advantage of his new surroundings registering six sacks and 17 quarterback pressures in his first five games, both tops on the team. Going forward, however, his impact could increase for a couple of reasons.
DeMarcus Lawrence playing better
This past April, Lawrence signed a five-year 105 million dollar extension with 65 million in guarantees. After successful surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder the All-Pro would miss OTAs and training camp before being taken off the PUP list weeks prior to the season. So far, Lawrence hasn’t found a consistent groove when it comes to getting to the quarterback. Although he has 15 quarterback pressures he’s only managed 3.5 sacks in the first seven games, a half-sack per game average. That’s not exactly the level of production you want to see from your 21 million dollar a year pass rusher. I believe at some point Lawrence’s play will improve drastically which makes life easier for Quinn. The more Lawrence can continuously get pressure coming off the left side the more attention he will draw as far double teams go which will create a lot of one-on-one opportunities for Quinn. Something to keep an eye on going forward.
Antwaun Woods, Maliek Collins, and Michael Bennett being a force on the interior
The best way to frustrate a quarterback is to constantly get pressure on him on the interior. Antwaun Woods missed three games after suffering an MCL sprain in Week 2 vs the Washington Redskins. Christian Covington and rookie Trysten Hill played pretty well against the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints, but they looked horrendous vs the Green Bay Packers as Aaron Jones had a career day with four rushing touchdowns. With Woods now back in the lineup and having gotten a game under his belt post-injury, I can see him combining with Maliek Collins to make the interior a strength again for an up and down run defense.
Also, the addition of former Pro Bowl Defensive End Michael Bennett will add more production to the defensive front. Bennett played under Defensive Coordinator Kris Richard in Seattle making him more than familiar with his scheme. With Bennett also having the ability to slide inside it could create a three-headed monster on the interior with Woods and Collins. This will draw more double teams by the opposing offensive line on the inside which will free up Quinn to cause even more havoc coming off the perimeter.
If these few things happen I expect Quinn’s contribution to this defense to get even better. He’s been an impactful addition so far, as a matter of fact, you can argue he’s been the best offseason pickup defensively league-wide. Quinn and his skillset will definitely be needed more than ever as the Cowboys face a tough five-game stretch in November.