The 2020 season has been a trainwreck for the Dallas Cowboys. From season-ending injuries to inconsistency, it has been a year full of head-scratching moments, to say the least.
There have been some bright spots for America’s Team throughout this tumultuous season. Rookies CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, and Tyler Biadasz have performed well after being thrown to the NFL fire so to speak. However, two of the team’s most respected veterans have also shown why they’re amongst the league’s elite at their positions.
Zack Martin and DeMarcus Lawrence were recognized as midseason All-Pros by Pro Football Focus earlier this week.
Death, taxes, and Martin dominating interior defensive linemen have become three certainties in life since the former Notre Dame standout was drafted in 2014. He’s been selected to six Pro Bowls as well as receiving six All-Pro nods (four on the first-team). Despite the constant shuffling of quarterbacks after Dak Prescott was lost for the season after a gruesome ankle injury, Martin’s play has continued to put him in the conversation as the best guard in the entire NFL.
Highest-graded G’s of 2020:1. Wyatt Teller – 94.42. Zack Martin – 90.53. Michael Onwenu – 90.44. Shaq Mason – 86.55. Ali Marpet – 84.9 pic.twitter.com/YR48NXTd5H
Martin displayed just how versatile he could be in Week 3 vs the Seattle Seahawks. He slid outside to play right tackle after undrafted rookie Terence Steele left the game due to injury. The perennial All-Pro didn’t just hold his own but looked like he could have the same dominance at tackle as he’s had at guard for seven seasons now.
Zack Martin is something special. Outside of a snafu with Looney vs an E/T stunt on the last OFF play, he was excellent at RT. His presence brought some much-needed stability to the pass pro in the 4th.The game result was disappointing but this was a bright spot #Cowboys pic.twitter.com/Gy5PpRpDGj
Although the Cowboys have no plans of putting at tackle long-term it’s a great luxury to know that if he’s needed to slide outside for any reason that he can hold down the fort.
Lawrence has been a major topic of discussion since he signed his five-year, $105 million dollar deal with $65 million guaranteed in April of 2019. His season was underwhelming if you focus on the fact that he only recorded five sacks. However, according to Pro Football Focus, his 9.8% run stop percentage (tackles that constitute a loss) was tied for eighth in the NFL (third amongst edge rushers who played 50% of the team’s snaps). Also per PFF, his 83.3 run defense grade was tied for sixth for all edge rushers in 2019.
The two-time Pro Bowler got off to a slow start in 2020 but has turned it around significantly lately. After not recording a sack in the first four games Lawrence has three in the last five. Also, he’s racked up 23 tackles, 10 pressures, six hurries, four quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles over that span.
Just like his performance in 2019, you have to look beyond sacks to under Lawrence’s impact on the Cowboys defense. He’s been dominant again vs the run this season. According to PFF, his 18 run stops are the most among edge rushers and the second-most for all defensive linemen this season.
DeMarcus Lawrence’s 18 run stops are the most among EDGEs and second-most among all DL/EDGEs, per PFF. #Cowboys
Martin and Lawrence have been cornerstone pieces for the Cowboys since they were both drafted in 2014, and all signs point to that being the case for the foreseeable future with their continuous high-level of performance.