The Dallas Cowboys defensive line looked unstoppable on Monday night. How much scarier will they be when David Irving returns from suspension?
We always knew the Dallas Cowboys defense was going to be like a delayed released capsule this season, in the sense that the longer the year wore on, the stronger this defense would get. And that’s mainly due to their revamped roster and suspensions.
In the offseason, the Cowboys lost several of their veteran players on the defensive side of the ball to free agency. And that was certainly by design. Instead of paying aging, often times underperforming veterans, some of whom with extensive injury histories, Dallas opted to get cheaper and younger.
Gone were veteran defenders like defensive tackle Terrell McClain, defensive lineman Jack Crawford, safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. Starting cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr were also allowed to find new homes after years of service.
In their place, the Cowboys brought in a slew of rookie defenders. In fact, Dallas used seven of their nine draft picks on the defensive side of the ball this year. Rookies like defensive end Taco Charlton, cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis and safety Xavier Woods have all played significant minutes so far this season.
Throw in second-year stars like linebacker Jaylon Smith, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, cornerback Anthony Brown, defensive end Charles Tapper and safety Kavon Frazier, and you have a significant youth movement in Dallas that should improve with every snap this season.
And don’t forget the Cowboys’ own free agent signings in defensive end Damontre Moore and cornerback Nolan Carroll. Both should get more comfortable with their new team and more productive as the season progresses.
Finally, let’s also remember those players coming back from suspension. Moore, who was suspended for the first two weeks of the season, made his debut on Monday night and helped the Cowboys dismantle the Arizona Cardinals in primetime.
But the biggest boost to this Dallas defense might be the return of David Irving. Arguably the Cowboys most talented defensive lineman, Irving has shown flashes of brilliance during his time in Big “D”.
Irving’s breakout game came last season, in a Week Six matchup with the Green Bay Packers. The second-year defender recorded four total tackles, 1.0 sack, a batted ball and three forced fumbles against the Pack, all on his way to earning the NFC Defensive Player of the Week award.
The 24-year old would post 3.0 sacks in the final three games of the regular season and seemed poised for a big year in 2017. Irving finished last season recording 17 total tackles, 4.0 sacks, five pass defends and four forced fumbles while starting in only two of his 15 played games.
But in the offseason, Irving was suspended for the first four games of the new year due to violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy.
With Irving and Moore suspended, plus so many new faces on defense, many believed it could take some time for this unit to gel this season. But through the Cowboys first three games, their defense’s performance has exceeded expectations.
And that’s mainly due to the excellent play of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who currently leads with NFL with 6.5 sacks. With David Irving returning in Week Five to face the team he had so much success against last year, the Green Bay Packers, this Dallas Cowboys defense should be absolutely scary down the stretch this season.