The Dallas Cowboys’ 2018 season ended because their run defense was absolutely trounced to the tune of 273 yards, so did they do enough to correct this in 2019?
I’m sure I don’t have to remind Dallas Cowboys fans how the 2018 season came to an abrupt end (but I will anyways). After charging back from a disappointing 3-5 start, Dallas rattled off win after win down the stretch, winning the NFC East, and advancing to the divisional round of the playoffs.
But their storybook ending did not come to be. The LA Rams, led by street free agent running back C.J. Anderson, ran up and down the Dallas Cowboys at will, preventing Dak Prescott from leading one of his patented comebacks, and ending the season in backbreaking fashion. So today we ask – Did the Dallas Cowboys address this issue in the offseason?
I’m going to come right out and say it – the Dallas Cowboys run-stopping issues are wildly overblow. Dallas finished the season ranked 5th in average yards per carry allowed. Considering Dallas played in an extremely high number of close games, this is a pretty accurate reflection of their run-stopping prowess.
Down the stretch last season, key run-stoppers succumbed to injury – perhaps none more important than surprise standout, Antwaun Woods. Combine the inopportune injuries, with what was arguably Leighton Vander Esch’s worst game of his career, and you have a recipe for disaster.
In determining winners and losers, being the most efficient running team isn’t usually the determining factor. The top passing team gets that honor. But every so often we see the exception to that rule, and the Cowboys divisional round matchup was that exception.
Old school fans will cling to this as proof that having the dominant running game is essential to victory just like analytics nerds will point to this as proof even the best running back in the NFL, Todd Gurley, is replaceable and individual RBs don’t matter.
While that’s certainly a fun debate (and one we’ve had many times this offseason), it’s not the point to debate today. The point to make today is the Dallas Cowboys run defense was fantastic last season.
Bad luck, injuries, and poor play just met arguably the best offensive line in the NFL last season and that perfect storm led to an uncharacteristic ending for the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season.
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As such, focusing on the run defense too much would be irresponsible and poor use of limited resources. Even still, Dallas improved more in the run-stopping department this past offseason. Not only do they return a healthy Antwuan Woods, but they also added run-stopper Christian Covington for added depth and rotation.
LVE and Jaylon are a season more experienced, and Dallas invested their top 2019 draft pick in an interior defensive lineman. With an ultra-deep defensive line rotation, the Dallas Cowboys have largely insulated themselves from injuries (within reason) and look like a team that will improve and already stellar run-stopping unit.
Did the Dallas Cowboys improve their run-stopping defense enough to ensure we don’t see a repeat of last season’s elimination game? I’ll answer that question with another question – How much upgrading does this front seven really need to improve? Not much, but they appear improved anyway.
- Published on 09/06/2019 at 12:45 PM
- Last updated at 09/06/2019 at 11:05 AM