Already Dallas has lost middle linebacker Sean Lee for the ’14 season and the first preseason contest against the San Diego Chargers is almost two months away. Add Lee’s loss to the recent departures of DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff and Jason Hatcher and you can see that there’s some talent lacking as well as bodies.
Names like Tyrone Crawford and Henry Melton soften the blows that the last several months have brought from a personnel standpoint, but both of those guy are coming off major injuries last season and exactly what they can offer right away is a question mark. Two-time franchise player Anthony Spencer offers even less confidence as he’s coming off of micro-fracture surgery and also moves to a new position.
Yes, Brent is needed on this line, but not because he’s an elite pass rusher off the edge or a gap penetrating presence along the defensive interior.
Brent, at least in Marinelli’s scheme, will immediately improve the Dallas run defense, arguably the greatest weakness for the franchise for close to a decade. I concede that there hasn’t exactly been a defensive backfield patrolled by safeties like Darren Woodson or Roy Williams for far too long, but the makeup of the defensive line has been lousy since at least 2005, the first year of the 3-4 scheme under then-head coach Bill Parcells.
If Dallas nation is to quickly see the fruits of ’14 second-round draft pick DeMarcus Lawrence, then all should pray that a run defense appears in pretty short order. Beyond the possibility of having Brent back in action for the regular season opener, the only healthy names on the roster right now at defensive tackle are Davon Coleman, Nick Hayden and Terrell McClain—only one played in Dallas last year, another is a free agent acquisition from this offseason and the one remaining is a rookie. A second rookie, Chris Whaley, was injured last November and likely won’t see much, if any, action this year. Anyone positive that Amobi Okoye makes the team?
The defensive end position has similar questions and injuries to sort out, but this part of the roster will fair so much better if the Cowboys can stop the opposing rushing attack, a necessity if this franchise has any real ambition of making the postseason for the first time in five seasons.
Remember that Dallas had virtual no-names at linebacker as the push towards Super Bowls was beginning back in the early 1990s. It wasn’t until the pass rush arrived in 1992 that Cowboys linebackers started gaining notoriety for more than just being undersized. Without Lee once again, the Cowboys linebackers will need all the help they can get upfront in stopping the run and Brent is easily the best qualified defensive tackle to do that, if or when he returns.
Then the question, as Jones eluded to earlier, is what in the way of disciplinary action might Brent still face from the NFL upon his potential reinstatement?
What if Brent was suspended for the entire 2014 regular season?
Either way, we can fully expect the Cowboys to be in the market for some serious defensive help in next year’s annual player selection meeting, whenever and wherever it ends up taking place.
In the meantime, Brent is simply too valuable, if eligible, to pass on for the coming season. There’s just not very many guys who stand 6’2” and weigh around 320 pounds who also possess the athleticism that Brent has. It only makes sense that the anointed replacement for Ratliff, who has no replacement himself, is allowed to resume his professional football career in Dallas.