Dallas Cowboys Defense: Regular Season Grades
Dallas Cowboys Defensive Line Grade: B
Heading into the preseason, the Cowboys defensive line was considered the weak link of a team that had questions on both sides of the ball. Two of their previous three second round picks were spent on pass-rushers, both of whom were facing drug suspensions.
With Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence both missing time, the team looked under every rock it could at the defensive end position: signing career backup Benson Mayowa, nabbing David Irving back off the Chiefs practice squad, and even moving Tyrone Crawford outside from his usual defensive tackle position.
However, this unit held it together. The front four managed to grab 29.5 sacks on the season, with no one player having more than 6. Being able to get pressure on the opposing quarterback was key to covering up other weaknesses in the defense, which is what caused the defense to get hot at the latter part of the season.
Not only did they pressure opposing signal-callers, they (along with the linebackers, more on them later) helped shut down the run game. The Cowboys are the only team in the NFL to not give up a 100 yard game to an opposing running back, a stat that propelled them to the number one rush defense in the NFL.
This unit stepped up and exceeded expectations and finished in the top half of the NFL in most categories. Toward the end of the season, the pass-rush took over games to help secure the victory.