At 13:24 in the 3rd Qtr of the Cowboys embarrassing loss last Sunday to the Panthers Malik Collins sealed his fate with a picture-perfect, Rod Marinelli designed sack on Carolina QB Cam Newton from the 1-tech position.
Marinelli is known for his love of quick, undersized defensive linemen and even though the 3rd year player has excelled at his more natural 3-tech position and did get some first-team reps earlier in the week during practice at that spot, failures by the front office to address the 1-tech slot have dominoed to (once again) force two players into sub-optimal playing positions in the rotation.
With the Cowboys losing their preferred 1-tech, Brian Price, to a waiver-wire shuffle as they tried to get cute at the end of the season this once again is forcing Collins to ply his trade there as well as move Tyrone Crawford to the 3-tech even though he prepared all offseason for the DE role.
It’s great to have versatility when you need it in a pinch. It’s not great to have to use that emergency tool all season long.
Just like Jay Ratliff before him who was a natural 3-tech who played at the 1 from time to time Collins will excel in these matchups. However, he will also most likely have a shortened, injury-laden career with sub-optimal results, just like Ratliff who left the Cowboys after almost getting in a physical altercation with Jerry Jones over his injury status.
In Malik’s rookie campaign, when he regularly manned the 3-tech, he delivered 5 sacks, a forced fumble, a recovery, and 17 solo tackles. He was forced into full-time 1-tech duty the next season due to injury and put up 2.5 sacks and 10 solo tackles. He also tabbed 2 fumble recoveries but the drop in production in the face of increased snaps is not explainable just because of the position responsibility changes. All of Marinelli’s DLinemen are expected to get to the QB. Collins quickly wore down as the season progressed and other teams were able to target him on running downs. It was not a good situation. The results reflected that on game day.
Admittedly the Cowboys front office has attempted to address the 1-tech spot. They have failed again and it’s a recurring theme, one that has plagued them for ages.
The Panthers defense was in the Cowboys backfield all night long and stuffed the run as well. Their LARGE two tackles, Dontari Poe and Kwan Short dominated the middle of the pit and were instrumental in the outcome of the game. Both were high draft choices. The Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones has gone on record for years explaining how the Cowboys don’t value the 1-tech position enough to spend a premium pick on it as they pass up promising 1-tech talents in the NFL Draft year after year.
I hear the explanation. What I don’t hear is how you see value in having to push your promising 3-tech to the 1-tech position each year getting less out of more? And that is not even counting Crawford who once again is soldiering out of his natural spot and will inevitably wear down late in the season. You know, when the games matter most. Or at least they should.
Perhaps Jerry is right and the team can find 1-tech talent from a steady drip of UDFA talents.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over