Going into the season the Dallas Cowboys had some questions going in regard to the defense. Most people knew the secondary would be a work in progress, but one place people were not talking enough about was the pass rush.
The thought was that DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory would generate enough on the outside, and until Neville Galimore went down, there was some hope for pressure up the middle as well. However, after the first game, there are some questions as to where the Dallas Cowboys will get pressure as the 2021 season progresses.
Before we get too far into this, some perspective: Tom Brady gets rid of the ball at the top rate in the NFL. During the Tampa Bay game, Brady averaged 2.4 seconds before getting rid of the ball, so it may not be the best game to judge the pass rush on.
However, with questions in the secondary, coverage sacks will be hard to come by until it starts to come together. Outside of Demarcus Lawrence, there was not a lot of consistent pressure. Now, with Randy Gregory potentially out for Sunday (he can still play if he passes two COVID tests before the end of the week), there will need to be pressure coming from somewhere.
The Dallas Cowboys need to find some help in the pass rush, and it may need to be scheme-designed for now.
Watching the Cowboys attack on Thursday night there was some push up the middle which was nice to see, but it was not consistent nor was it enough to disrupt Tom Brady. Now, heading into a matchup against the Chargers, the Cowboys will have to find ways to keep Rashawn Slater from mitigating Lawrence, thus causing a deficit in pass rush against a young, albeit talented, Justin Herbert.
Whether Gregory can play or not, Dan Quinn will have to find ways to get pressure on Herbert. One way the Cowboys can do this is using Micah Parsons and the other linebackers to shoot gaps or move them around to create mismatches along the line.
Another way that Quinn can help generate pressure is to use some of the more physical linemen inside on twists and stunts. This would help free up the ends from being double-teamed consistently. He could use safeties or corners, but with some questions in coverage, he may decide to keep them in coverage and not open spaces in the secondary.
For now, the Cowboys have some lingering questions on the defensive line and where to generate pressure. Someone will have to step up and help Lawrence on the edge and if the Cowboys can find ways to generate pressure up the middle, the secondary will need the help as it works through its issues.
If they can not find a way to generate more pressure it could be a trade potential as the season wears on.