What a difference a year can make. At this time last year, the Dallas Cowboys had one of the most pathetic looking pass-rushes in the NFL. Fast forward to this year and the Cowboys stand on the verge of true “elite” status.
If you’re a slave to the stat sheet, you may not see the difference between last season and the season before. In 2016 the Dallas Cowboys finished with 36 sacks on the season, 13th in the NFL. Last season they modestly improved to 38, tied for 15th in the league. So, with such pedestrian improvement, why am I so inspired with confidence heading into the 2018 season?
This is why…
Besides the players we’re about to list, we should first consider the circumstances. In 2016 the Dallas Cowboys were 13-3. Powered by their running game, they typically snagged leads early and held on late. Such a formula resulted in ideal pass-rushing situations for the defense.
With teams constantly in catch-up mode, Dallas pass rushers were able to pin their ears back and go. Considering how ideal that situation was, it was actually pretty sad they only finished with 36 sacks on the season.
Fast-forward to 2017 and you have an entirely different situation. Finishing 9-7, the Dallas Cowboys survived by grit and luck much of the season. They suffered catastrophic losses to their offensive line and a backbreaking suspension to their workhorse, Ezekiel Elliott.
Without the benefit of an early lead week after week, they rarely gave their pass-rushers the luxury of teeing off in the way they did a season before. Even still, the Dallas Cowboys pass-rushers were able to improve on their output despite the decrease in prime opportunities.
Assuming the Cowboys have moved past their suspension issues at running back, and corrected their personnel issues on the offensive line, it’s likely they’ll be reverting back to the team that carried the lead through most of 2016.
With the situation now corrected, the Dallas Cowboys will look to these promising talents to lead them into elite status in 2018. Here are the five players that can make the Dallas Cowboys pass-rush one of the very best in the NFL.