Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) throws the ball as Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) chases in the third quarter at FedEx Field. The Cowboys won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys' Defensive Line is worse than Last Year

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (97) hits Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) and causes a fumble in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys Mailbag

 Everyone is making a big deal about us signing Melton, people forget that we had the worst defense in the league and Hatcher played the same position as Melton. So you take away hatcher and add Melton, what do you have? The same old defense. Melton can give you the same production 11 sacks I doubt it. Now take away Ware and add no replacement think about it – wow!

- Coach Eric

For the most part, I agree with what you are saying. I also doubt Melton will produce the kind of numbers Jason Hatcher did last year while occupying the same position. Hatch had a phenomenal season in 2013. Hey, someone had to I guess!

So, while I don’t expect Melton to reproduce Hatcher’s 2013 numbers, I also didn’t expect Hatcher to either. If he stayed in Dallas, I think he would have a tough time even coming close to those numbers.

What Henry Melton provides is Pro Bowl talent at a discount price. It’s a low-risk/high-reward contract so if he does well, the Cowboys keep him to a reasonable contract. If he does poorly, the Cowboys can decline his option and let him walk.

Of nearly equal importance is Melton’s age. Once fully recovered, he is still young enough (27) to play at peak levels for the next 4 years. The same couldn’t be said for Hatcher (age 32 by start of 2014 season). The Cowboys need to be thinking 3 years down the road just as much as they think about 2014. They are undergoing the difficult task of rebuilding without tearing down completely. It’s doable but not easy. Melton’s age and talent should be able able to help the Cowboys in 2014 and beyond. That’s why many see him as a good addition.

As for replacing DeMarcus Ware – that’s not so easy. Because of poor cap management over the years, he had to go. His sack numbers tanked last year and the Cowboys needed to free up his money to fill multiple spots. As you pointed out, with 33 Hurries, he still made a difference in 2013.

I doubt the Cowboys will be able to replace it for quite a while. As I wrote a month ago, here, finding double digit sack men is not easy in this league. The Cowboys could be hunting for years.

Thanks Coach Eric! Your feedback and dialog is valuable and appreciated. Later today we will look at another mailbag contribution from Coach Eric. This time it addresses the secondary.

Do you have questions or comments regarding Dallas area sports? Email Reid at [email protected]. You may be included in the next weekly mailbag. Follow Reid on twitter @ReidDHanson


Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Dallas Cowboys Demarcus Ware Henry Melton Jason Hatcher

  • Jack Farguson

    One thing that Coach Eric failed to notice is that DeMarcus Ware was less than half of his usual self last year. Trying to make that comparison using last year as his example will probably make him a loser. The year before Melton went down he recorded 13 sacks, so he could be as good as Hatcher’s 1 year wonder. As bad as this Defense was last year I hope they have nowhere to go but up. I’m hoping the learning curve from the defensive change was part of the problem and the defense will have learned it better this year. I think they will be improved.

    • Reid Hanson

      I hope you’re right because they were pretty bad last year! We’ll have to see who the Cowboys can add through the draft but the talent on the roster now suggests tough times ahead. Melton will be in his prime for a few years so he could theoretically produce Hatcher-like numbers. Melton did record 13 sacks but that was over a 2 year period. The most he’s ever collected in a single season was 7. Still, I really like the player and I think he will be better for the Cowboys longterm.

  • Jim Dowd

    wish i could get back the five minutes i spent reading that.

  • Juanito Juanito

    wait after the draft and will see

    • Reid Hanson

      Good point, there are a ton of changes still to come

  • Alfredo Martinez

    I desagre.. Rod Marinelli makes this defense much better than last year kiffin defense… Still before the draft… I want 2 DEs in the first 2 picks of next draft… In the first pick, Anthony Barr could fall to us, Kony Ealey is a prototype 4-3 DE.. Dee Ford was outstanding in the senior bowl but i have my issues…. In the second round i realli fall in love with Trend Murphy, a 6-6, and 250 man.. He is a RKG for Garrett.. Another pair of rushers in the second round could be Van Noy from BYU and Scott Crichton from Oregon St…. Both in 6-3 and penciled for 3-4 defense…. Excepcional speed for Van Noy…. in my dreams i can see Aaron Donald. from Pittsburgh with a star in the helmet, but i think he is a top ten pick prospect…