Nov 27, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence (90) and Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Rolando McClain (55) in game action against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. Philadelphia beat Dallas 33-10. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Demarcus Lawrence in the second round of the 2014 draft. The Cowboys coveted Lawrence so bad they traded up to draft him. Not because he was a top 10 pick who slipped into their hands like Randy Gregory. But because Lawrence was one hell of a talent and the Cowboys needed to upgrade their pathetic pass rush. And because Lawrence was suppose to be the heir apparent to departed Cowboys all time sack leader, DeMarcus Ware.
Lawrence couldn’t showcase his athletic ability soon enough because of an injury he suffered during training camp. Which only enhanced the expectations of Lawrence joining the team and being an impactful player. Because the thinking was that once Lawrence joined an overachieving defense, this freak of nature DE would improve the Cowboys pass rush. Well when Lawrence returned, he was nothing more than another draft prospect with potential. At best.
That was a good thing because Lawrence became a regular in the defensive line rotation and learned the ropes. However, the Cowboys were still waiting for Lawrence to do something to remotely justify drafting him. You know, like sacking the qb. Or beating your man on a regular basis and pressuring the qb to make an errant throw.
Or force a fumble and get a sack . The Cowboys were waiting patiently on Lawrence like someone waiting on their tax returns.
The Cowboys got a return on their investment in the playoff game against the Detroit Lions. When it mattered the most, Lawrence stripped and sacked Matthew Stafford to win the game and give the Cowboys their first playoff victory in five years. Prior to that play, Lawrence recovered a Stafford fumble and tried to run to pay dirt, only to lose the fumble and see the Lions recover. Fortunately, Lawrence redeemed himself with his own sack and fumble recover.
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Regardless of the brain cramp play, the Cowboys finally witnessed what Lawrence was capable of doing. What they were hoping for. Lawrence was very instinctive, regularly pressured Stafford and used good technique. He definitely became a major contributor in that game. And in the following game against the Green Bay Packers, the Cowboys witnessed more of Lawrence as he sacked the one legged Aaron Rodgers in a painful loss.
The Cowboys will need Lawrence to pick up from last season’s playoff games to solidify the pass rush. They will need Lawrence more than ever to come out of the gates sacking the qb. Giving the Cowboys that bona fide pass rush that they need so badly. He has to make defenses respect him and game plan for him. His success opens up the door for other defensive linemen to get sacks and for lb’s to blitz because of the double teams he requires.
I know everyone is wondering about Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory being a part of the pass rush equation. I’m wondering about them, too. Like I’m wondering how many games will Hardy actually miss. Will Hardy miss 10 games, 8, 6, 4, etc. We don’t know at the moment.
And I’m wondering if Gregory will play like a rookie and not contribute as much or will he be the opposite and come out and dominate like the Cowboys are predicting and win Defensive Rookie Of The Year?
If you’re wondering about Jeremy Mincey, who led the team in sacks last season with 6, then I believe you understand the importance of Lawrence getting sacks on a regular basis. Because 6 sacks won’t do it. Nothing against Mincey, but he cannot lead the Cowboys in sacks unless they are in the double digits.
Of course, it’ll benefit the defense if Hardy’s suspension is downgraded significantly and Gregory comes out dominating, then the Cowboys will have their “Triangle Of Terror” . Eating up opposing qb’s en route to their 6th Lombardi Trophy.
But if not, then Rod Marinelli will have to work his magic again. And the Cowboys will find themselves in position to lose to a one legged qb. Again.
I’m saying he better pretend to play like them because the Cowboys will need his sacks to be successful and to build off of last season’s success.
That’s all I’m saying.
Because it starts with Lawrence.