Over the past couple of seasons, the Cowboys defense has had an entertaining swag that all began with Demarcus Lawrence giving the defensive line the name “The Hot Boys”.
On top of receiving a fitting name, this team has also added talent to their starting lineup along with their depth players. Their defense staff also received a boost last year by adding coach Kris Richard who had a big hand in creating “The Legion of Boom” for the Seattle Seahawks.
Let’s take a look at some of the players on the defensive line and how they will improve in 2019.
Since becoming defensive coordinator, Rod Marinelli, has shown to be fond of rotating players on the defensive line very often. He keeps his players fresh as much as possible, with the exception of Demarcus Lawrence. Lawrence didn’t get the name “Tank” for playing well on certain plays, but rather due to his consistency on causing chaos for opposing teams on most of his snaps. Tank has posted back to back double digit sacks and now looks to have a greater season after receiving his new contract. Also in that rotation will be newly added defensive end, Robert Quinn. Quinn is here on a one-year rental after arriving in Dallas via trade with the Miami Dolphins. Over the last 4 seasons, Quinn has averaged 6 sacks which is a good number for a role player. However, having Tank on the opposite side should allow Quinn more one on one opportunities. This could lead to an enormous season for Quinn who is out to prove that he can still play at a high level and get a new contract as well.
As for the second rotation, we’ll be seeing the likes of Taco Charlton and Tyrone Crawford take over as defensive ends. While the former 1st round pick hasn’t been what most people expected, being part of the second rotation can do him some good. Taco knows better than anyone else that he hasn’t lived up to his draft status, but this season he can breathe life back into everyone by having a much improved season. This off-season he’s already been working on getting his technique better for rushing the passer. Even in college, Taco started off slow but gradually became better each year which ultimately led him to be drafted in the first round. Crawford may not be the flashy player you’d like to see, but there are reasons his team selected him as a Captain last year. Crawford is a great leader for the defense that pushes them all to be better every day. His stats don’t suggest that he’s a disruptive player, but he’ll be making noise with a few big plays per game. When you least expect it, Crawford will be the one to make a game-changing play.
The inside of the defensive line can’t be ignored either. Maliek Collins and Antwaun Woods did a good job last season, and now will continue to get better. Collins’ health has been an issue his entire career, as we saw last season when he missed 5 games. When able to be on the field, Collins has proven to be a big help against the run while also crashing the pocket for quarterbacks. Collins is also playing on a contract year which we’ve seen is the time for players to put their best foot forward. This will benefit him by being able to get a new contract if he plays well while benefiting the Cowboys with an efficient season. Woods was a sneaky surprise last year as he came into camp as an unknown but became one of the team’s most consistent weapons. Woods’ ability to play the run helped Dallas control the tempo while keeping teams from having long drives. Entering his second year, Woods will look to become an even greater force that will lead to bigger plays for the defense. Added on with these two guys will be rookie defensive tackle Trysten Hill. His incredible strength and athleticism make him dangerous on any given play. During his time at UCF, Hill, was a master of causing problems for his opponents. Quarterbacks will have to keep an eye out for the rookie, or they quickly regret having crossed paths with him.
There is still the development of second-year defensive end, Dorance Armstrong, as well as the possibility of Randy Gregory making a return. If Gregory is able to return, there is no doubt that he’ll be a menacing threat to other teams with his speed rush ability. However, Armstrong will be looking to battle it out with other young players to earn a spot on the team. Rookies Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks may be counted out by fans, but coaches see something special in these guys. Don’t be surprised if the young bucks get their shot at the 53 man roster this year.
From their starters to their depth players, the Cowboys have obtained tons of talent. Dallas has done an incredible job on building their defensive line, and 2019 could be the year everyone sees just how great they can be.