Despite some of the negativity that always seems to surround this team, the Dallas Cowboys have had some very positive occurrences in these past few weeks. Randy Gregory has seemingly turned his life around, is substance free and submitted paperwork for reinstatement, while Jaylon Smith is now running around without the brace for his drop foot. Those are two huge former second-round picks who might help resurrect this Dallas defense.
To take it even further, this has the potential to be one of the best Cowboys defenses since the DeMarcus Ware days from 2009 and 2010. They are young, they are fast and they just might have enough pieces to put together a nasty unit this season.
The Cowboys might lack a true run stuffer on defense, but they have everything else they need. You want pass rushers, they have DeMarcus Lawrence, arguably one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. Tank dominated last season and could be able to improve upon his career high in sacks with David Irving around for all 16 games and taking attention away. Also expect a better year from Taco Charlton, who came on late last year and said he is finding his groove in year two.
Now, if Gregory gets reinstated, the Cowboys will have a serious pass rushing attack. Gregory is the best pure edge rusher on the defense and even in limited snaps, he could do damage as a situational weapon.
None of those aforementioned defensive linemen will be older than 26 years old this season. That’s a ton of athleticism and skill coming at offenses in waves. It’s a stout group even without mentioning Tyrone Crawford, Maliek Collins, Kony Ealy or even Datone Jones, who could be a huge sleeper.
The linebackers should excite you as well, it’s the best group the team has had in a while. Sean Lee is still one of the best to play the position, Jaylon Smith looks like he’s about to make huge strides another year clear of his injury and rookie Leighton Vander Esch was labeled as one of the best coverage linebackers to come out in years. In a league that loves passing, getting guys that can cover is a huge plus. And if Smith plays like the top five player he was at Notre Dame, this unit is filthy good.
Damien Wilson and Joe Thomas provide depth, which is needed with the injury history of Lee. Even if General Lee gets banged up, the defense has two solid pieces to help them stay afloat this year.
The secondary might be where some have a concern, especially after not landing Earl Thomas as the lead dog at safety. However, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis acquitted themselves well as rookies and will only be better this season. Byron Jones returns to the cornerback position and Anthony Brown is a nice fourth corner.
Despite not landing Thomas, there is a significant potential that Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier can develop into solid players. Woods is someone who has the athletic ability and physical presence to make fans forget about the almost trades for Thomas. Jeff Heath is also a reliable piece, someone who is ways around the ball, an extremely admirable quality.
This is a young, talented group that will benefit from the teachings of Kris Richard. Perhaps the biggest acquisition this offseason wasn’t a player, but Richard for this defense. If he can get the most out of this secondary, Dallas’ defense could soar in 2018.
It’s an optimistic look at how the defense might turn out this season, but they have revamped this unit in just a few years. The Cowboys have a young, talented group that might have the makings of a defense on the rise. Dallas boasts a top pass-rushing duo, one of the best linebackers in the game, a top young linebacker if Smith comes around and a secondary that could blossom under a superior coach.
If everything falls right, watch out for this Dallas Cowboys defense.
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