Dallas Cowboys: Four ways to instantly improve the defense

Everson Griffen, EDGE, Dallas Cowboys. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Everson Griffen, EDGE, Dallas Cowboys. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dallas Cowboys
Trysten Hill, DT, Dallas Cowboys Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

Stop playing Dontari Poe and Trysten Hill together

The starting combination of Dontari Poe and Trysten Hill has been abysmal. There really isn’t a better word to describe the tandem. (Or worse word?…) Poe was a welcome addition to the “fat man” squad because he could use his big body and good strength to outleverage interior offensive linemen with hopes of stopping the run.

Trysten Hill was drafted, much earlier than he should’ve been, because former DC Rod Marinelli liked his pass rushing upside. Coming out of UCF, Hill showcased very little ability to leverage gaps and disengage from blocks consistently often displaying a higher pad level and poor usage of hands. After what was essentially a redshirt rookie year, Hill started gaining popularity with the coaching staff and ownership over his progress.

Four games in and all that is apparent is his motor is unstoppable. In run support, he struggles to initiate contact at the POA and as a result, can’t use his good lower body strength to leverage the gap and drive the blocker away in order to make a play on the ball carrier. PFF has him as the worst ranked defensive tackle in the league; while I don’t agree

When two really bad run stoppers play together, you aren’t likely to win the battle in the trenches.

While one of these examples does not show Hill (and the other shows Hill correctly leveraging his blocker) there is so much available to prove the interior linemen are not getting it done. Playing Antwaun Woods at 1 technique is marginally better and switching Hill out for Gallimore or Crawford isn’t doing enough.

The Cowboys started to group Poe and Hill less against the Browns. While the Browns did run for a franchise record, not all those yards came at the expense of the interior defensive line. The linebacker play was notably out of sorts with Cleveland Browns HC Kevin Stefanski confusing the starting LBs with motions and other trick plays like reverses.