Dallas Cowboys Pass Defense Is Key Piece To Super Run


Never before has the NFL been more of a passing league.

In 2014, eleven different teams attempted more than 600 passes.  To put that in perspective, two current players, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and Indianapolis Colts Pro-Bowler Andrew Luck are on a pace to both be in the top 30 in career attempts by the time they are just 30 years of age.

So, while having a stout run defense is still important, it stands to reason that the most crucial skill when trying to limit how much time your defense spends on the field is how good you are at stopping the pass.

Unfortunately for the Dallas Cowboys, that may have been their Achilles Heel over the last decade.

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In the past ten seasons, the Cowboys have only had two years where they have finished in the top ten in opposing passer rating.  Conversely, in six of those years, they finished 20th in the league or worse.

In the least three seasons, Dallas has been particularly inept at registering sacks, finishing 21st in 2012, 27th in 2013 and 28th in 2014.  When having the classic chicken versus the egg argument regarding whether a pass rush makes your corners better or vice versa, I think it’s safe to say that quarterback pressure is the key.

To that end, the Cowboys have made great strides in the last two seasons to improve this area of need.  In 2015, they may be in a great position to reap those rewards.

Gone are the days of relying upon one guy who get the lion’s share of the sacks.  From 2005 through 2012, the Cowboys had the luxury of watching one of the greatest of all time get after the quarterback.

In those eight years, elite pass rusher DeMarcus Ware consistently gave Dallas double-digit sack totals.  In two of those seasons, he led the league in sacks.  He was just a half sack from two different 20 sack seasons.

And he had little to no help elsewhere.

The 2008 year was the only season in the last ten years that saw the Cowboys have four players with more than seven sacks.  2007 and 2012 were the only two years that featured two Cowboys with double-digit sacks in the same year.  Otherwise, it was Ware and essentially… where?

This season is shaping up to be vastly different however.

Last year’s sack leader, defensive end Jeremy Mincey, returns to the team looking to build on his total of six.  Free agent acquisition Greg Hardy will almost certainly bring an element of attacking the quarterback, although his sack total remains hard to predict, as it is based on the outcome of his suspension appeal.

But it’s the “young guns” who will make the difference.  Rookie Randy Gregory and second year stud Demarcus Lawrence will compete for playing time as well as sacks.  With all the attention that should be coming off the edge, that should allow for defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford to get more one-on-one opportunities to create pressure up the middle.

Two other rookies from last year who missed the entire season, ends Ben Gardner and Chris Whaley could also contribute.

All in all, the Cowboys have something they have not had since that 2007 season that saw them finish third in the league in sacks, fifth in opponent passer rating and fourth in total interceptions.


Factor in the style of defense that coordinator Rod Marinelli likes to employ and you can envision waves of fresh, talented pass rushers coming after the defense from all kinds of different positions.

In just two short years, the talent level along the defensive line has been significantly upgraded.  It’s time to turn the dogs loose and let them hunt.

If you want to make a bold prediction for the 2015 season, you make it this:  IF the Dallas Cowboys feature four or more players with seven or more sacks, they will be playing in Super Bowl XLX, February 7 at Levi’s Stadium.

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