Dallas Cowboys Struggles: Mistake to let Maliek Collins go in free agency?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Should the Dallas Cowboys have re-signed Maliek Collins in free agency?

The Dallas Cowboys have an overabundance of problems on defense this season but none more obvious than the interior of their defensive line. The play at defensive tackle this year has made it virtually impossible for the Cowboys to get stops. It’s stifled the ability of the linebacker corps and positioned the Cowboys dead last in run defense this season.

The regression from last season is substantial. Tackles are unable to maintain gap responsibility. They have been physically overmatched and outwitted at every turn. This embarrassing decline at DT has caused some to question whether or not the Cowboys should have let Maliek Collins, last season’s starting DT, leave in free agency.

Without Collins next to him, Antwaun Woods has clearly struggled. The man once referred to as “a trash can full of dirt” hasn’t been his usual unmovable self as of late. So it makes sense that some look at Collins’ departure for a possible reason this Cowboys interior is so bad.

But it doesn’t take much digging to find that Collins’ departure is clearly not the problem in Dallas. And had Dallas re-signed their former starter, they’d likely be in worse shape (if that’s possible).

From a production standpoint, Maliek Collins is arguably the worst DT in the NFL. He’s bad at producing pressure and even worse at stopping the run. In the chart above you can see his pressure rate is right below 3% while his run stopping is at just 5%.

Some of that is surprising and some of that, not-so-much. Last season in Dallas, Collins was in the top-5 in the NFL for most of the season in interior linemen pressure rate.  He was excellent at creating pressure in less than 2.5 seconds and played fairly consistently all season.

He was also a hot mess against the run (something that continued this season). Collins frequently gambled and lost making it quite clear his attention was on penetration and not playing the run.

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The grades support this as well. Pro Football Focus has Collins rated 3rd worst overall in the entire NFL (Trysten Hill is just one spot ahead of him on the list). His run-stopping grade specifically is second worst in the league. It seems Collins is every bit as bad against the run in Oakland as he was in Dallas, only now he’s not applying pressure any more either.

For those who are searching for reasons why Dallas has taken such a big step back at DT this season, it’s safe to say it’s not because they let Maliek Collins walk.

dark. Next. The NFL Draft can't fix the Dallas DT woes

If the Dallas Cowboys want to fix their issues at DT they can’t afford to roll the dice on the position this offseason. They need a proven veteran (or two) and need to find a way to turn their developmental pieces into viable rotational players.

  • Published on 12/20/2020 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 12/19/2020 at 09:46 AM