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Stephen Jones’ Comments on David Irving Should Raise Eyebrows

Kevin Brady

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David Irving, Redskins

As a whole, no handling of a single position group has faced more scrutiny in Dallas than that of the defensive line. Whether it's their inability to sign a "War Daddy" in free agency through the years, or the selection of Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton in round one last year, Cowboys Nation hasn't agreed with most of the front office's decisions on the defensive line.

And yet, the defensive line was downright dominant through most of the first 10-12 weeks of the 2017 season. DeMarcus Lawrence finished second in the league in sacks with 14.5, Maliek Collins continued to develop on the interior, Charlton showed some signs of improvement throughout the season, and David Irving was nearly unblockable when healthy and available.

When healthy and available.

For the Cowboys, it's that caveat with Irving which seems to be holding them back from a long-term commitment.

David Irving enters the offseason as a restricted free agent, but how the Cowboys' plan to handle his free agency are not clear. This week, Stephen Jones expressed the team's concerns with signing Irving to a lengthy contract.

Brandon George on Twitter

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on plan to re-sign restricted free agent DL David Irving: "He needs to put together a full season and consistency & all of that. Obviously played outstanding when he was healthy. I think it'd be real difficult to figure out something long-term with David.

Jones is clearly concerned with two things in terms of Irving:

  1. Health
  2. Past suspension

Whether or not these concerns are valid, however, is up for debate.

Much of Cowboys Nation is hoping they place a first-round tender on David Irving, meaning that if a team were to outbid them, the Cowboys would be compensated with that team's first-round pick. Considering the concerns Dallas has for Irving, it'd be hard to imagine a team giving up a first-round pick for him.

Even if they placed a second-round tender, they may be okay. Of course the risk of losing Irving would be greater, but the Cowboys might be comfortable losing out on him with the second-round tender in order to gain an extra early pick.

Should they be comfortable with that? Well, that's a totally different question. The odds of finding a day-one starter who will perform better than Irving did in 2017 (when healthy and available) with a day two pick are not great. They would likely take a step back at the 3-technique position in the now, while hoping the improvement would come over time.

Someone like Michigan 3-technique Maurice Hurst would be a solid replacement for David Irving, but would require a first-round selection. Also, as much as I love Hurst, I don't see him being as good or better than Irving his rookie season. Maybe over time, but probably not immediately.

Things are getting complicated as we near free agency, but it seems pretty clear that the fans feel keeping Irving around is much more important than the organization does.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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3 Comments
  • Kevin Black

    Whoa! What about Maliek Collins? He was going to be our 3-tech until all our 1-techs went away. He slid over due to not having a true 1-tech on this team. Collins is a true 3-tech and handled the position as a rookie with aplomb. Many thought he’d have a breakout year this year, but due to the loses at the 1-tech and him dealing with an injury for the second half of the year kept him from having that breakout.

    Don’t count out Collins. He’s our 3-tech of the future, not Irving.

    • EverybodyTalks

      Agreed. That is why I would be OK with a Vita Vea or a DaRpn Payne with the 19th pick.

  • Hector Espindola

    The truth about a player is between JJ (soft) and SJ (strong) words, that´s how they play it out. Having said so, Irving won’t receive a long term contract, but neither he will be lost in FA, because, for now, he is the best option as you clearly stated Kevin. However, I can understand the more open and direct tone of SJ, recognizing that their DL key players don´t help yet to solve the situation (Irving hast to put a complete season, D Law played lights out on a contract year, Crawford is overrated and overpayed, and the rest are starting to click, like Taco and Collins), so SJ does not see locked players and moreover, Irving and not Crawford results the odd man. Because all of that, FO has another position to address in the first rounds of the draft, along with OT, G, WR or LB, increasing the opportunity cost. So, the DL situation will take another season to be solved (adding preassure to Marinelli) and as insurance policy for the aforementioned players, they need to pursue a DE (which absolutely is an upgrade to Crawford) or grab a DT (and then Irving would be expendable next year). Is that is the case, and being realistic that the likes of Vita Vea, Davenport, Hurst and even Payne will be gone at 19, FO won´t have any insurance at all (besides Taco starting at RDE), which is the why OL and WR will be the targets to plug and play. And talking about plug and play, Isaiah Wynn would be great at 18 of round 2, because he will start at G and, at any moment, he can take the place of Tyron and then Cooper the place of Wynn (round 1 is for Ridley or Washington at round 3). Sorry for my long answer.

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Maliek Collins Playing Excellent for Cowboys Defense

John Williams

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Maliek Collins

For the Dallas Cowboys on the interior, a lot of the news consistently surround the availability of Defensive Tackle David Irving, but Maliek Collins is playing excellent right now. While I'm willing to be very patient with Irving because of the elite talent he brings, Maliek Collins should continue to start for the Dallas Cowboys at 3-technique defensive tackle.

Collins has been a player that the Cowboys have bounced between the nose tackle and the 3T position with the hopes of getting their best players on the field, and because of the lack of a consistent presence at the 1-technique or nose tackle position. Well, with Antwaun Woods taking control at the 1T, Collins has been able to play at the position where he's at his best. The 3-tech.

He hasn't put huge numbers in the sack column this season, but that doesn't mean he's been absent from being the disruptive player he's been through his first two and a half seasons.

During the Dallas Cowboys five game winning streak, Maliek Collins has led the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackles in total pressures with 13, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF combines sacks, quarterback hits, and hurries into their "pressures." Collins hasn't recorded a sack during the winning streak, but he has four quarterback hits and nine hurries. He's tied with Tyrone Crawford for third in total pressures behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory over the last five weeks.

Over the last five weeks, Collins leads the defensive tackles in solo tackles with five and is tied with Crawford and Antwaun Woods with three run stops on defense, according to Pro Football Focus. Collins has also has two tackles for loss in the last five games and recovered Tyrone Crawford's force fumble on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Collins had six sacks in his rookie season when he played primarily as the 3T, which allowed him to see more one-on-one blocks against opposing interior offensive linemen. Especially with the way the rest of the defensive line is playing.

With the Cowboys on the road to face the Indianapolis Colts this week, Collins is going to have a tough matchup with a very good Colts offensive line, in particular, rookie Quentin Nelson. Collins ability to get pressure on Andrew Luck on the interior is a huge key for the Dallas Cowboys this week. We know that Gregory and Lawrence will get their pressures, but if Andrew Luck is able to step up into a clean pocket, it will make for a much more challenging game for the Cowboys secondary.

Collins has proved to be up to any task over the last five weeks and if he's able to keep playing at such a high level, he'll make the Cowboys coaching staff, and the rest of Cowboys Nation forget about using other defensive tackles. For the Cowboys to make a deep push in the playoffs, they'll need Collins to be a big time player for them moving forward.



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Amari Cooper Wins 2nd NFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of 2018

Jess Haynie

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Amari Cooper

For the second time in just three weeks, Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper has been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

Cooper scored three touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, to lead the Cowboys to victory last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He has 10 catches for 217 yards, which led all NFL receivers last week.

Dallas Cowboys on Twitter

After his record-setting performance during week 14, @AmariCooper9 is the FIRST #DallasCowboys to win NFC Player of the Week twice in a season! → https://t.co/kvBDIeOgBd #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote #ProBowlVote

As the official website stated, Cooper is the first Cowboy to win the award twice in the same year. He's also the first Cowboy to be named Offensive Player of the Week since Ezekiel Elliott in 2016.

Before this year, Elliott was the only Dallas player to win the Offensive award in three seasons. Cooper has now done it twice in three weeks.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has amassed 40 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns.

His wasted time in Oakland may keep Cooper out of the Pro Bowl this year, but he's already become a fan favorite in Cowboys Nation. Congratulations to Amari for another well-deserved award!



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David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?

Sean Martin

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David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?

Dallas Cowboys Defensive Tackle David Irving, once a key member of the team's defense, will not make his return after all against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. For the second straight week, Irving was reportedly trending towards suiting up before being ruled out. The Cowboys haven't missed his unique presence for 13 weeks (playing against the Jaguars and Redskins), including through an ongoing four game win streak that began with a win against these Eagles on the road.

In that road win, veteran Tyrone Crawford recorded a sack and three tackles, while Antwaun Woods added two for a Dallas defense that held Philadelphia to 23 first downs and 71 rushing yards. The Eagles managed to cross the Cowboys' 30-yard line just four times.

There are many scenarios in which the Cowboys could have cut ties with Irving for not being worth the off-field trouble he's caused - beginning the season with a four game suspension. The absolute best case scenario is what they've realized amidst this turnaround, with other defensive linemen taking advantage of the opportunity left behind by Irving.

While it can still be true that Irving would make more splash plays than the likes of Crawford, Woods, Maliek Collins, and Caraun Reid, this defensive tackle group deserves praise for their ability to step in. Pass rush ability is one thing teams can't have enough of, and the Cowboys are missing some with Irving, finding ways to win thanks to the other traits these defenders bring to the table.

Cowboys Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard may effectively be the team's defensive coordinator with an emphasis on the back seven, but DC Rod Marinelli's impact is still felt - particularly up front. Regardless of where they're lined up and deployed, the Cowboys front four is expected to be disruptive on every snap, something this scrappy unit excels at.

Prepared once again to play on the edge this season, Crawford is thriving at his original position of 3T-DT. Crawford has two sacks, nine total tackles, and three other hits on the quarterback over the past four weeks. Leading by example with a relentless spirit on every play, Crawford has meant just as much to the Cowboys defensive ends as Irving could.

In a short period of time, the Cowboys have gone from building up Irving thanks to his transcendent ability to make those around him better to simply -- and importantly -- being better across the defense.

Led by DeMarcus Lawrence as their premier rusher, the Cowboys defensive line is a lot for opposing offenses to contain. The "Hot Boyz" work up front has allowed Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch to play fast and make plays all over the field.

Maliek Collins, battling back from his second broken foot in three years, is proving again he's a patented Marinelli guy. Collins' play speaks for itself when considering if the Nebraska product is best as a 3T or 1T tackle. Wherever he's asked to play, Collins creates penetration with an explosive first step and can finish at the quarterback with an array of power rush moves.

At 7-5 and fighting for their playoff lives, the Cowboys are done making excuses on the 2018 season. Their strides on defense speak for themselves, and with a group that keeps Dallas in every game they'll play, the door remains open for David Irving to earn snaps again when ready.

The Cowboys don't know any better than their play without Irving right now, and as winners of four straight, it's worth questioning if we'll see Irving over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Tell us what you think about "David Irving Out Again for Cowboys, Does Defense Need Him?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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