What Dallas Cowboys Player Is Feeling The Most Pressure?


Pressure is an important word in the NFL. It can apply to a lot of football situations. For the Dallas Cowboys the last few seasons, pressure has been a dirty word.

For the Cowboys, pressure conjures up visions of opposing quarterbacks picking apart their secondary with no pressure from the Dallas defense. Ironically for a key defensive player this season, pressure means living up to expectations by being the one who applies this elusive pressure on the quarterback.

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Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence was a key pick for the Cowboys in the 2014 draft. He was drafted at the top of the second round after the team traded up to get him.

He was tabbed as the player to replace the production of the departed DeMarcus Ware. The former Boise State standout was considered the best player left in the draft for Dallas that would have a chance to be the coveted pressure player.

As has been well documented, the team finished 28th in sacks out of 32 teams this past season. The team knows that has to change.

Pressure on the opposing quarterback is critical anytime, but the fourth quarter is where legends and Hall of Fame defensive ends are made.

Two great examples would be the Cowboys two 2014 playoff games. In the first game against Detroit, it was Lawrence who sacked the Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to seal the game for Dallas.

On the flip side, the next week against the Green Bay Packers, a one legged quarterback Aaron Rodgers had all day to throw the ball in the second half in their win over Dallas.

So many times over the last few seasons the Cowboys have seen even marginal opposing quarterbacks have career days against them. The only thing that saved them last season was their uncanny ability to create a turnover at crucial times of the game and the ball control offense the team deployed.

Hoping for a duplication of that is like asking for lightning to strike twice in the same place. It is possible but not very likely.

So the Cowboys grabbed a damaged goods defensive end and talented pass rusher Randy Gregory in the draft. Gregory has all tools and skill. But it will take Gregory a season to acclimate himself to the NFL and gain the necessary weight. Expectations should be realistic and low.

Of course all Cowboys fans are hoping that embattled defensive end Greg Hardy will get some reprieve from the NFL, reducing his suspension from it’s current ten games. Even if it is reduced to eight games, Hardy will at best be full speed around week ten. Especially having not played in a regular season game since September 7th, 2014.

The Cowboys have no shortage of defensive lineman heading into training camp this summer. There are some nice stories and some interesting players. The problem is that the pressure type players that make good teams great, do not come out of the woodwork.

There are certain traits that those types of players possess. It is obvious through every level of football that they play. Therefore don’t bet the farm that there is a hidden pass rusher lurking in the depth charts. It just very rarely happens.

Any success that the Dallas defense has applying pressure to the quarterback is resting on the broad shoulders of Lawrence. If Lawrence disappoints or gets injured and Hardy does not come back by the middle of the season, it could be a long season for the defense.

This season should tell us if what the scouts saw in Lawrence in college is going to translate to the NFL field. No matter how much the secondary improves, when the opposing team gets the ball back with two minutes left and down by less than a touchdown, hold your breathe. Something Cowboys fans have gotten good at.

Every team plays at least a one deep if not a two deep safety zone defense in that situation to prevent the big play. The hope is that your pressure can get to the passer. Back to that word again.

The Cowboys hope the player with the most pressure on him going into the season is able to turn that pressure around and unleash it on the opposing team. The success of the upcoming season will most likely hinge on how he handles it.

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