The injury to Tyrone Crawford was about as scary and worrisome as you get in sports. It’s terrible to see a player go limp after contact and fall straight to the ground and it’s scarier still to see them attempting to stabilize the head so that the player doesn’t move or further injure themselves. That was what went down on Sunday as Tyrone Crawford went down. And make no mistake, Crawford will be missed. He’s a leader on the defense and his ability to play the run and provide pressure from both the defensive end and defensive tackle positions. As sad as it is to write this, the NFL is a next man up league and that next man up is Taco Charlton.
Charlton, who had been inactive since the week 13 win over the New Orleans Saints — where he saw a season low four snaps — played the highest percentage of defensive snaps (58%) since the week six win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
And the Cowboys got a good return from Taco Charlton’s snap count. Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Charlton had five total tackles (1 solo) and a tackle for loss according to Pro Football Reference. Pro Football Focus credited Taco with a pressure and two defensive stops. He led the defensive line in tackles.
With the timetable for Crawford unknown at the moment, it looks like Charlton is going to get an opportunity to see more playing time moving forward and at the most important time of the year.
Taco Charlton is the one draft pick over the last few years that hasn’t returned the investment that is expected of a first round draft pick. He’ll have a shot to flip the draft bust narrative that some have already placed on him with the snaps that he’s about to receive week 17 and in playoffs.
This is Taco Charlton's best play of the day. pic.twitter.com/LfMcXjGhqp
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) December 25, 2018
Don’t let the lack of production or that he’s not starting lead you to believe that he’s not a player capable of making a contribution. As you see in the gif provided by Marcus Mosher of The Athletic, he drives up the field hard and then can change directions quickly and stop the runner for a loss. It was an insanely athletic play by Charlton and it should give us an indication of what he’s capable of.
Taco’s always been an above average run defender for the Dallas Cowboys, but has struggled in his pass rush responsibilities. With DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory bookending the Dallas Cowboys pass rush, Taco’s not going to be expected to be a dominant pass rusher at this point.
What he can do is fill the Tyrone Crawford role pretty well. Charlton’s excellent at setting the edge in the run game at the defensive end position, but also has the strength and enough quickness to make an impact on the inside at the 3T defensive tackle position.
If the injury to Tyrone Crawford lingers into the playoffs, which we should all expect, and David Irving continues to be a “did not practice,” then I’d expect Charlton to continue to see a sizable snap count on the Dallas Cowboys defensive line.
If there was ever a time to reward the Cowboys for making him the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, that time is now. Only Taco Charlton can change the narrative on him and the opportunity is coming for him.