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

 

Tags: Dallas Cowboys Demarcus Ware Henry Melton Jason Hatcher

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