The Dallas Cowboys are having huge problems getting the best play possible from defensive ends that can’t seem to stay on the field.
Throughout the history of the Dallas Cowboys, success has always come with a few precious common denominators. Among those intangibles, which have included a great franchise quarterback and an elite featured running back, were a dominant pass rush.
Well, the primary position responsible for getting heat on opposing quarterbacks is either of two defensive ends, at least in the Cowboys’ current 4-3 alignment operated by defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
This just happens to be the position that Dallas is having the hardest time with, which is common around the NFL. Guys who can reach double-digits in sacks during a given regular season are mighty tough to come by.
The Dallas Cowboys are not only suffering from a shortage of Pro Bowl talent at this all-important position, but the franchise also can’t keep the guys they have on the field due to league-imposed suspensions. There’s five names I’ll list here that have created serious issues for the Cowboys over just the last three seasons – three this calendar year alone.
Last week’s announcement that Damontre Moore, a free-agent acquisition acquired just a few months ago, would be suspended for two games this season is the most recent setback. Although the Dallas front office has stated that they were aware of this possibility before signing Moore, it doesn’t help much when you factor in other similar land mines the team has already faced this year.
Whether you see him as a defensive end or a defensive tackle, David Irving‘s four-game suspension is a real killer. Irving is the most unblockable and disruptive force on Marinelli’s front four that we’re aware of, and yet he’ll be sidelined until the Cowboys line up against the Green Bay Packers in Arlington on Week 5 – talk about getting back to action just in time.
Then, of course, there’s the year-long suspension for 2015 second-round pick Randy Gregory, who seems far more likely to never play professional football again given his extremely short membership in the NFL, which has been mired with substance abuse issues.
But it doesn’t stop there.
How about 2014 second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence being suspended for the first four games of last season?
Remember Greg Hardy in 2015? Regardless of whether or not Hardy should have ever worn the blue star, or even been in the league that season, Dallas was still facing an eight-game suspension for this highly polarizing figure before it was eventually reduced to just four games.
I’m not going to bother adding how many total regular season games have been missed by Dallas Cowboys pass rushers over the last three seasons, but I will say this much: Surviving the month of September – again – will likely be a forgotten focal point of the season by the time all is said and done.
Last year the Cowboys survived Lawrence and Gregory suspensions en route to a 3-1 record in September. The franchise will need every bit of that result if this young team with high expectations is going to reach double-digit wins in 2017.
These thoughts have nothing to do with Dallas’ 20-18 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Canton, Ohio on Thursday night, although if you watched opposing quarterback Blaine Gabbert blister the Dallas defense for back-to-back touchdown drives in the first quarter you know exactly what I’m talking about.
This young journeyman went 6-for-6 on the two scoring drives while looking like the franchise quarterback the Jacksonville Jaguars thought they were getting in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Alarming, at the least.
Things have to change where the Cowboys pass rush is concerned – and quickly. This year’s Hall of Fame game showed us nothing at all, aside from some bright spots that are expected on offense. At this point, players like Charles Tapper, Maliek Collins, Benson Mayowa and rookie Taco Charlton have some serious slack to pull.