2015 marks the beginning of the next Dallas Cowboys dynasty. That might be a bold statement but members of Cowboy Nation will happily tell you that every year the Super Bowl is ours to lose. I proudly predicted that our 2014 team would finish 19 – 0, but that’s my prediction every year.
Like fellow The Landry Hat writer Cody Stauffer, not only do I believe the Cowboys will be better in 2015, but that this season marks the start of something epic. So I make no apologies for probably being the most optimistic (some would say delusional) Cowboys fan ever, but I’m not alone. Cowboys Fever is everywhere, even before the team’s first OTA on May 26 – 28.
I’m active with social media when the Cowboys are involved and a glance will tell you that Cowboy Fever is strong. Other teams have fans that post a Philadelphia Eagles or New York Giants logo every Sunday during the season, but The Star stays prominent on a daily basis. You’ll see a jersey, a tattoo, a license plate tag or a golf bag that proudly displays love for our Cowboys. When we cross paths “Hello” is replaced by “How ‘Bout Them Cowboys!”
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I need every member of Cowboy Nation to help paint the world blue and silver. I want to share why I’m excited about: The Improved Pass Rush.
I mentioned that our 2015 draft will be known as a defensive draft (5 of 8 picks), even though we selected more defensive players in 2014 (7 of 9 picks). I’m a huge fan of youth on the field coming from quality college football programs. After watching footage of the Cowboys Rookie minicamp, I’m impressed and excited about the entire defensive roster.
I’m on the record as NOT being a fan of defensive tackle Nick Hayden, but he has a role and does it well. Nothing personal, but I keep waiting for someone more athletic to replace him in the starting lineup. Still, opposing offensive lines are going to have nightmares about our front seven.
There will be pressure coming from our defensive ends: Greg Hardy (26), DeMarcus Lawrence (23), Randy Gregory (22), Ryan Russell (23), Jeremy Mincey (31), Kenneth Boatright (25) and Ben Gardner (24). With defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli at the helm, the future of our pass rush is in good hands.
I want to thank Michael Aaron Petty for sharing this scouting report video by The Film Room on Gregory in The Real Cowboys Family Facebook Group. Just watching Gregory handle offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (drafted by the New York Giants) means quarterback Eli Manning will be tossing more interceptions than ever to cornerback Byron Jones.
I’m a stat junkie and Martin Hernandez (also in The Real Cowboys Family) mentioned that while the defense had 28 regular season sacks, 21 were in the last 8 games. That wasn’t completely accurate, but close. That points to the high quality of information and discussion in well managed groups about the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys defense ranked 28th with 28 sacks and had 18 sacks in the last 8 games. They also had more sacks to close games out including 10 sacks when opponents had a 3rd down with 6+ yards to go.
Sacks by Quarter
The Cowboys were missing a dominant pass rusher that could get 20+ sacks solo. The Buffalo Bills led the league with 54 sacks and finished with a record of 9 – 7. They had a trio guys reaching the quarterback: Mario Williams (14 sacks), Marcell Dareus (10 sacks) and Jerry Hughes (9.5 sacks).
By comparison, Mincey, team leader in sacks, finished with six. That shows that sacks were part of a team effort. This year, I project Russell and Lawrence will each have 7 or more sacks before Hardy returns from his 10 game suspension. The scary thing is – they should only get better.
Put me on record predicting a dramatic improvement in our defensive stats especially in the sack department. When quarterbacks get hit a few times, interceptions usually follow. That points to big things for our defense which is just one reason why 2015 marks the beginning of the next Dallas Cowboys dynasty.
Find me at Facebook.com/CowboysRob