Cowboys: Fear not! Dallas is better than you think at DT

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Carson Palmer
GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Carson Palmer /

With both starting DTs currently unavailable, it’s understandable many in Cowboys Nation are worried about the interior of the line – but I’m here to say, “fear not!”

The Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle positions are in disarray. Once again starting the season on the commissioner’s suspended list, is starting 3-technique, David Irving. Once again recovering from foot surgery, is the starting 1-technique, Maliek Collins.

With both starting defensive tackles begining the season in less-than-ideal circumstances, it’s easy to see why some are concerned about the interior defensive line. Especially since there are so many unproven options behind them on the depth chart. Allow me to ease your concern…


The Dallas Cowboys are quite particular with their personnel. In a very Parcells-ian way, the Cowboys have a “type”. And often times, if you don’t fit that “type” you won’t make the roster. So what is that type?

When you break down the measurables of the Cowboys defensive linemen, it quickly becomes apparent they like big, long bodies with greater than average reach and active hands. This applies to the edge and the interior players. Take a look:

David Irving (6’7” 290lbs), Taco Charlton (6’6” 270lbs), Kony Ealy (6’4” 275lbs), Tyrone Crawford (6’4” 290lbs), Datone Jones (6’5” 288lbs), and Jihad Ward (6’5” 295lbs) are all examples of long and lean players with plus rated reach.

The size and dimensions of the above players allow them to play inside or outside if needs be. And right now, my friends – needs be.

Related Story. Jihad Ward could make Dallas look brilliant. light

A lot of people have been assuming Tyrone Crawford will just slide over and pick up the slack at the 3-technique. After all, he’s done it time and time again. But as I’ve said many times this offseason, this season may be different. The Cowboys asked Crawford to cut considerable weight – the amount that will make it tough for him to play more than a handful of snaps inside on game day.

That’s why the Cowboys will probably go to the well early this season. Jones, Ward, and even Charles Tapper and Ealy may end up logging snaps inside early this season. With arms longer than most of the guards and centers blocking them, these players can make up for any girth they may be lacking.

Additionally, the speed and quickness of these players will become even more pronounced inside. Jones, Ealy, Tapper, and Ward were all drafted as defensive ends. But all of them have the skill set and length to thrive inside at the 3-technique. None of them are quite as disruptive at David Irving. But then again, who in the NFL (not named Aaron Donald) is?

The Cowboys will generate pressure from inside and they’ll use a variety of different players to get the job done. Including a few defensive ends like the ones mentioned above.

Stopping the run may be a different story. Aside from Brian Price, the Cowboys have virtually no one capable of plugging the A-Gap in the stereotypical 1-tech NT role. But as discussed before, the Cowboys just don’t value that role very highly. They aren’t as scared as we are of getting gashed up the A-gap repeatedly.

Related Story. How Datone Jones can solve the problem at DT. light

This defense picks it’s poison and in a league where today’s poison is the horizontal flow of a run-pass option attack, having long lean players capable of staying off blocks is the most valuable to them. (which is why I also believe Jihad Ward and Datone Jones were brought in specifically to stop the RPO).

Next. How the Cowboys are abandoning the traditional 1-tech DT. dark

It’s less than optimal to see David Irving suspended again to start the season. And Maliek Collins recovery has a fluid timetable that’s a legitimate worry. But this needn’t be a Class A concern because the Cowboys have been building their roster to handle this very situation.

  • Published on 08/07/2018 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 08/07/2018 at 08:56 AM