DeMarcus Lawrence Must Step-up for the Dallas Cowboys


Nov 2, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (90) rushes the passer against Dallas Cowboys tackle Doug Free (68) in the third quarter at AT&T Stadium. Arizona beat Dallas 28-17. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Only four games into his rookie year, DeMarcus Lawrence is already feeling the burden of being the Dallas Cowboys’ edge rusher. His modest 131 total snaps represent the late start to his season, and the part-timework he’s receiving game to game.

According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), who track and analyze every play, for every player, on every game, DeMarcus Lawrence has played 44% of the Cowboys’ 295 snaps over the past four weeks. Last week against Philadelphia specifically, he played 42% so he doesn’t appear to be trending in the positive direction either.

Since the young 2nd round pick out of Boise State is only considered a situational pass-rusher at this point, he’s generally at the mercy of the particular game situation. If the opponent does most of its damage on 1st and 2nd down, they will reduce their number of 3rd downs, thus limit opportunities for DeMarcus Lawrence.

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It may not be fair to have such expectations for Lawrence, but the situation the Cowboys’ defense is in demands it. The Cowboys drafted Lawrence high in the 2


round. They had a first round grade on him and were willing to give up their 2


and 3


rounder to move up to get him. He has an impressive lean on the edge and has a knack for maintaining balance while doing so.

Sharing much of the time with Lawrence on the right edge is Jeremy Mincey. Mincey himself has been having a very strong year and is grading out as one of the top players on this maligned Dallas defense. With only 3 sacks (PFF accredited) he’s still failing to make the plays that this defense needs most.

Lawrence hasn’t been bad, but he isn’t yet impactful in the way the Cowboys most need him to be, which is of course, the pass-rush.

In weeks 9 and 10 Lawrence tallied 1 QB Hit, 2 Hurries, and 2 tackles. The next two weeks he added 2 more hurries and 2 more tackles. His snaps have largely stayed the same and, as you can see, his statistical production stayed about the same as well.

Scouting the game film it’s clear DeMarcus is applying some newly acquired knowledge to go with his new moves. As a result, he’s visibly playing slower and hesitating when he should be exploding off the edge. Losing that split second makes all the difference in getting to the QB or not.

The Cowboys’ defense is in bad shape. We can argue how poor they are all season long, but what’s clear is they lack playmakers and do little to stop opposing offenses. They are still among the league’s worst in yards per play against (27th in the league). By giving up an average of 5.9 yards per play this season, they are only 0.2 off of last year’s pathetic 6.1 yards per play. Check out: The Dallas Defense Must Find Their Pass-Rush

The biggest way to improve this defense’s performance, (other than controlling the ball more on offense) is to apply more pressure from the front 4. Marinelli doesn’t like to blitz very often and only blitzed the Eagles 3 times last week on Philly pass plays.

Either the Cowboys need to blitz more and put more pressure on their secondary, or the Cowboys must find a way to generate a rush from the front four. The most skilled edge rusher on the team is Lawrence, and he has yet to get a sack or apply consistent pressure. The Cowboys seem determined to develop Lawrence into a complete multi-skilled DE, but they may be taking away impact plays in the process.

DeMarcus Lawrence is the best hope for the Cowboys’ pass rush – he just has to take that next big step and the Cowboys have to give him a chance.