Dallas Cowboys pass rush better than advertised?


The Dallas Cowboys have the pressure players to put forth a better pass rush than advertised.

The biggest concern for the Dallas Cowboys going into this off-season was their pass rush, we’re not breaking any headlines with that analysis. In the four months since Dallas’ 2015 year ended, the team hasn’t exactly done much to combat their deficiency and it has gotten worse with the suspensions of defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence (likely) and Randy Gregory, as well as moving on from Greg Hardy.

Aside from adding former Oakland Raiders defensive end Benson Mayowa and drafting Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper, not much has changed. Both players need work to be considered an upgrade and the pass rush is still an issue for the Cowboys.

However, that doesn’t mean the Cowboys can’t be successful in getting to the quarterback this season. The defense might not have that dominant edge rusher, but they have guys very capable of getting sacks. The Cowboys don’t need to go back to the days of old when Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware (OK, not that old) were sacking the quarterback 15+ times a year, some development from their existing group can make a difference in 2016.

The potential is there for the Cowboys to be much better than they were last year. It’s a group of young, athletic pass rushers who should only get better. If they get modest improvements and the offense can give the team a lead, we could see more sacks from a balanced group of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli’s ‘Rushmen.’

Of those returning, the defensive line returns with a combined 17.5 sacks. Lawrence led the team with eight sacks last year, defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford had five and hybrid rusher Jack Crawford pitched in with four. Add in Mayowa’s sack with the Raiders and the versatile David Irving’s half of a take-down and the numbers don’t look great.

But there is potential with the unit. Defensive tackle Cedric Thornton comes in to take some of the attention off Crawford, who is also returning from a bum shoulder. The team drafted Nebraska defensive tackle Maliek Collins to bring pressure on the inside and Tapper to help on the edges. Both bring some pass rush ability and youth to the defensive line.

They didn’t have a high sack total last season, but between the group of Lawrence, Gregory, Irving, Mayowa, Tapper and the Crawford’s, they have an average age of 24.5 years old. That is a heck of a lot of upside! Take out the elder statesmen Tyrone and Jack Crawford and the average age of the edge rushers is under 24-years old.

There is potential for a good pass rush if some of those players live up to their abilities. The defense doesn’t need to have a dominant sack guy if everyone pitches in. Dallas only had 28 sacks in 2014, a total they bested in 2015, with a group that didn’t have this much talent, so there is a reasonable chance they put more pressure on the quarterback than you think.

It hurts that Gregory and Lawrence will miss time, but there’s a reason the Cowboys didn’t invest in bigger money free agents, they have faith in their players. The team targeted Mayowa and Tapper, they believe Lawrence will continue to get better and that Gregory has the ability to be a 10-sack player every year if he can stay out of trouble. Dallas has confidence in the Crawford’s and that David Irving can blossom into more than a role player.

The organization believes and they do this for a living, why don’t why we?

We’ve all questioned the off-season moves of the Dallas Cowboys because they didn’t appear to get better at rushing the quarterback. For some, the ‘Help Wanted’ sign still hangs outside the ‘Rushmen’ door.  The team doesn’t see it the same way.

Is this an optimistic view, absolutely. But sometimes the glass needs to be half-full.

You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi

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