Sep 09, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Henry Melton (69) reacts after a play against the Indianapolis Colts during the fourth quarter at Soldier Field. Chicago defeats Indianapolis 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Interior Defensive Line Will Be a Leap of Faith in 2014

The pre-training camp defensive tackle roster looks like this as of early July:


In a perfect world the rotation of Henry Melton, Nick Hayden, Terrell McClain, and Amobi Okoye isn’t a terrible start to a solid interior defensive line.  This is not a perfect world so we should look a little bit closer.

  • Henry Melton, FA signing.  Former pro bowler tore ACL in September 2013 and signed a bargain contract
  • Nick Hayden, starter 2013.  Reliable, consistent starter did not have any sacks last season for an awful defense
  • Ken Bishop, rookie 7th rd.  Rookie, too early to pass judgment but lasted to round 7
  • Dartwan Bush, rookie FA.  Undrafted rookie, too early to pass judgment but went undrafted
  • Davon Coleman, rookie FA. Undrafted rookie, too early to pass judgment but went undrafted
  • Terrell McClain, FA signing.  3rd round pick in 2011 and has accrued 1 sack for his career and been released 3 times
  • Amobi Okoye, FA signing.  Former top 10 pick in 2007 hasn’t played meaningful snaps since 2012. Released 4 times
  • Chris Whaley, rookie FA.  Undrafted rookie, too early to pass judgment but went undrafted

I don’t get paid to be a general manager and nor do I believe myself smarter than Jerry and Stephen Jones however I reserve the right as a fan to question this defensive tackle rotation and thus invoke that right to the highest degree!

On paper, back in 2012 Henry Melton, Nick Hayden, and Amobi Okoye would be the start of a solid tackle platoon.  This isn’t 2012 and Dallas is taking HUGE fliers on production this season.  To be blunt, McClain has never produced, Melton is coming off a very serious injury, Okoye has been a bust, and Hayden was average on a terrible defense last season.

As far as the rookies are concerned, I highly doubt they make the team and the two best will probably be practice squad fodder next season.  Defensive end Tyrone Crawford could potentially play some snaps at tackle this season but he’s coming off a serious injury as well.

In 2013 the Dallas Cowboy defense gave up over 128 ypg on the ground which placed us in the bottom third of  the league.  Our linebackers will have their hands full this season if Dallas has any hopes of stopping the run in 2014 and improving upon an abysmal performance last season.

On the bright side….

IF the pass defense improves in 2014 AND we get more of a pass rush from our defensive ends then the undermanned interior will have a chance.  IF Melton returns to form AND Okoye/McClain fulfill their potential while Hayden stays steady, they will have a chance.  Perhaps that’s all they need is that chance together.

If not….  we may all wish for 8-8.



Tags: Amobi Okoye Dallas Cowboys Henry Melton Nick Hayden Rod Marinelli Terrell McClain

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