The Dallas Cowboys boast two of the highest graded pass-rushers in the NFL and to the surprise of many, DeMarcus “Tank” Lawrence isn’t one of them.
With DeMarcus Lawrence, the Dallas Cowboys boast one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. As the most accomplished pass rusher between 2017-18, Dallas awarded him with a massive contract extension this past offseason.
Lawrence, or “Tank”, is far and away the Dallas Cowboys’ best defensive lineman. Why then, are two other Dallas linemen rated as better pass-rushing performers six games into the 2019 season? We look into this surprising turn of events today…
Pro Football Focus, a site dedicated to grading every snap based on performance rather than result, is one of the most valuable websites for player evaluation. They look beyond the stat sheet and apply context and analytics to their ratings. So when they come out with mid-season progress reports and player rankings, we make sure we take a look.
Just this week PFF dropped their top-25 pass-rushers of the 2019 season. Given DeMarcus Lawrence’s struggles this season, it’s not overly surprising to see him absent from the list. Even taking the double and triple teams into account (he’s one of the most double-teamed players in the NFL), it’s hard to apply an elite pass-rushing score when sacks, hits, and hurries are all down.
What is surprising is who on the Dallas Cowboys DID make the list. Clocking in at No. 17 is Robert Quinn. The one year rental has made the most of his opportunity opposite Tank and his single-team match-ups have produced five sacks and 11 hurries in just 109 snaps. Those are some highly efficient results.
Joining Quinn on PFF’s list is Maliek Collins. While Collins has struggled mightily against the run, his pass-rushing has never been better. He already has 20 total pressures (one more than Tank) on the season and is paced to mark a career best in pass-rushing productivity.
Is this saying Quinn and Collins are better pass-rushers than Tank?
Of course not.
It’s just saying they are making the most of their opportunities. And that’s exactly what we wanted from them this season. Not surprisingly, opponents are focusing solely on Tank every week. That’s giving everyone else man-to-man situations to attack the passer. As opponents take notice of their success, they’ll be more likely to divert attention to stopping Quinn and Collins. That will either move resources off Tank, or require extra blockers (and less down-the-field targets).
Either way, this is a very good thing for both DeMarcus Lawrence AND the Dallas Cowboys.
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It’s also important to point out DeMarcus Lawrence is still having a very good season and this ranking only considers pass-rushing, not the other areas of the game. So while Quinn is balling as a rusher, he’s an absolute liability against the run. Overall, he rates well below Tank and even rates below Kerry Hyder in overall edge play. Similarly, Collins suffers in areas outside of pass-rushing. His grade against the run is one of the lowest in the NFL.
Tank is a notoriously slow starter and he has a history of picking up his production as the season progresses. As John Owning pointed out yesterday, Tank is No. 9 in pass-rush win rate this season. While that’s 10 points down from last season’s 34%, it’s indicative of how he typically starts a season.
Lawrence is a great (GREAT) player and is playing a solid all-around game this season. The gaudy stats may not be there but there’s absolutely no cause for concern. The good news is Robert Quinn and Maliek Collins are both performing well above expectations and will now be opening up opportunities for Tank down the stretch.
- Published on 10/17/2019 at 12:54 PM
- Last updated at 10/17/2019 at 13:04 PM