Hey you! Yes, you, Inside The Star reader and presumed Dallas Cowboys fan. How many career NFL sacks do you have?
If you answered zero, then congratulations. You are only two career sacks behind the two Cowboys’ defensive ends that we are about to talk about. (Note: If your answer was not zero, please book the next available flight to Oxnard, California and line up at DE for the Dallas Cowboys).
Tony Romo is only 9.5 sacks behind the current career sack leaders on the Cowboys roster.
The state of the Cowboys’ pass rush is in complete dismay, with news dropping on Tuesday that the already-suspended Randy Gregory will miss training camp due to another series of failed drug tests that forced him to check into a rehab facility. Of course, these failed drug tests for Gregory will also lengthen the amount of games that his suspension will last, which could now be anywhere from 10-14 games.
While this news was certainly rattling, fans that were expecting a lot of production come week 5 from Randy Gregory were probably overly optimistic about this team’s pass rush entering 2016. Even with all the camp reps that Gregory could have been getting, the second year player would best be treated as a rookie defensive end come his return to the field, and rookie defensive ends don’t burst onto the scene to terrorize quarterbacks.
Now, even those summer training camp snaps against the best offensive line in football are gone for Gregory, and Benson Mayowa will benefit the most. Mayowa was the team’s answer this off season to this glaring need at defensive end that has existed for far too long, being signed to a three year deal that was not matched by the Oakland Raiders.
At first glance, teams do not let quality young pass rushers slip away like the Raiders did here, but Mayowa actually started his career in Seattle – being waived after just two games. An unproven player stuck behind a solid starter, with all the physical abilities and tools to become an impact player, is exactly what the Cowboys needed to deliver to Rod Marinelli – the defensive coordinator that gets the best out of every pass rusher – and Mayowa is exactly that.
Under DC Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defense has become known for its rotation along the defensive line. The term “starter” has become a relative role, as waves of pass rushers throw different looks at opposing offenses throughout the game. While this will certainly continue to some extent in 2016, the first shot at the right defensive end position is going to go to the 25 year old Benson Mayowa.
The potential rotational depth backing up Mayowa on the right side certainly isn’t stunning, as the likes of Charles Tapper and Jack Crawford could see the most chances behind him. Benson Mayowa, in his first training camp with the Dallas Cowboys, is now going to get a golden opportunity to get incredibly valuable reps against the likes of Tyron Smith and the rest of Dallas’ offensive line.
The Dallas Cowboys knew they could offer Benson Mayowa the chance he had yet to be given in the National Football League, but they certainly didn’t expect to not be able to work with Randy Gregory this summer. Instead, they’ll work with Mayowa, who should be ready to put his head down and get to work on each and every snap.
If Mayowa is unable to prove with this expanded role throughout camp that he can be relied on to any extent as a pass rusher for this defense, he is going to be forced to watch the Cowboys look outside the current roster for help at defensive end. In just the first year of his first long-term contract, this would certainly catch the attention of and hopefully motivate Mayowa into becoming even more productive for the Cowboys during the season.
The Dallas Cowboys are preparing to enter a season in which they have Super Bowl aspirations, while simultaneously relying on Benson Mayowa to put pressure on the opposition’s quarterback…and there might not be a whole lot wrong with it.