Cowboys: Will Tyrone Crawford Lead the Team in Sacks?

Jun 14, 2016; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (98) during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2016; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (98) during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cowboys most tenured and highest paid defensive lineman, Tyrone Crawford, will be leaned on heavily in 2016.

It’s rare when an interior defensive lineman leads a team in sacks. It can mean one of two things:

1. That interior lineman is supremely special or

2. That defensive line has some serious issues.

In the 2016 Cowboys’ case, it could mean both.

The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2016 season in a bad way on the defensive line. The team that was already starved for pass rushers found out this winter they will also be without both starting edge rushers for the start of the season.

DeMarcus Lawrence will be out four weeks and Randy Gregory could be out much, much longer…

Related Story: Why Randy Gregory Will Be Banished

Frankly, no one should have been banking on Gregory, at any point, given his sorted history and inability to avoid marijuana. But DeMarcus Lawrence’s loss was completely unexpected and could be crippling. Considering four weeks accounts for a quarter of the regular season – losing Lawrence was a huge blow to a well-documented position of weakness.

What kind of shape he returns in, remains to be seen. He’ll be allowed to practice and participate in preseason activities before facing his suspension. The Cowboys expect him to stay in shape those four weeks away but that’s far from a guarantee for a seamless week five transition.

The Cowboys will be forced to lean heavily on their veterans this season. Unfortunately, they are short on proven vets at this particular position group and they may have to just cross their fingers and pray for a career year from Tyrone Crawford.

Fourth year lineman, Tyrone Crawford, is the longest tenured Cowboys linemen and not coincidentally, the highest paid. Playing Rod Marinelli’s famed, under tackle (3 technique DT) position, Crawford is in position for good things in 2016 since the top two producing positions on this defense are supposed to be the right defensive end and Crawford’s under tackle.

Much of the talk this spring/summer has revolved around filling the temporarily vacated DE spots. One of the more popular solutions has been moving Tyrone Crawford, a former DE, to the edge for the first four weeks.

Where exactly Crawford lines up each week, will play a big part on Crawford’s impact this season. It’s easy to see that Crawford would be far less impactful at a secondary position like DE than he would at his primary position of under tackle. After all, his flashes of greatness inside are what prompted the Cowboys to preemptively extend Crawford’s contract in the first place.

Related Story: Why Tyrone Crawford Must Stay at DT

Sadly, a painful rotator cuff injury limited Crawford’s ability to get to the passer in 2015. While his five sacks marked a career best for Crawford, it’s pretty far from meeting the lofty expectations placed upon him when the Cowboys re-signed him to a 4 year/$40M deal only a season ago.

Double-digit sack totals remain the benchmark for upper level NFL pass-rushers. Three DTs finished in the top-10 for sacks last season, logging 11 sacks a piece. In Jason Hatcher’s last season as the Cowboys under tackle, he himself was able to rack up 11 sacks.

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It’s fair to say 10 or 11 sacks per season is exactly what the Cowboys were expecting when they extended Crawford a year ago and they continue to be what they expect from him today. The good news is considering Tyrone Crawford’s ability, age (26), and scheme, 10-11 sacks appear perfectly reasonable.

The next logical question is – Will 10-11 sacks be enough to lead the Cowboys in sacks?

DeMarcus Lawrence is Tyrone Crawford’s primary competition for being the Cowboys sack leader. If he wasn’t suspended for ¼ of the season, he would be the odds-on favorite. So can Lawrence collect more sacks than Crawford in just 12 games?

That’s going to be a tough number to hit for him but it’s not completely unreasonable either…

"Consider this: In DeMarcus Lawrence’s final eight games of the 2015 season, he collected seven of his eight sacks. If Lawrence can continue that pace he could certainly claim the title of 2016 Cowboys Sack Meister."

Additionally, more opportunities are surely to come for the Cowboys defense since the Cowboys offense will be scoring considerably more points this season. The results of which will keep opposing offenses passing deep into games, rather than just running out the clock like we saw so often in 2015.

However this plays out, the Dallas Cowboys need both Lawrence and Crawford to step up and provide career performances in 2016. Double-digit sacks by both players would go a long way in improving the Dallas Cowboys defense and driving them into the playoffs.

Next: Randy Gregory Situation Changes....Nothing

For Crawford, the status quo will not do and if the Cowboys have postseason hopes they better pray that Tyrone Crawford can make a play for team sack leader this season. Will Tyrone Crawford lead the team in sacks in 2016? We better hope so.