Dallas Cowboys: D-line attrition the true test for coaching staff

Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports /

Mere hours from Monday night’s battle for the NFC East between the Dallas Cowboys and the birds from Philly, the Cowboys coaching staff faces possibly their biggest challenge to-date: overcome their losses on the defensive line.

Dallas’s top defensive player, DeMarcus Lawrence, is out. Fellow defensive ends, Dorance Armstrong Jr. and Bradlee Anae have also been ruled out. Inside the Cowboys are without Neville Gallimore and Carlos Watkins (The two guys who were supposed to be the starting DTs). Even Trysten Hill is out for those who still count him among the land of the living.

To make matters worse, starting WILL Keanu Neal is out having been placed on the RESERVE COVID list last week. And with Micah Parsons expected to take significant snaps at DE, the Dallas Cowboys are essentially down two linebackers this week as well.

The Dallas Cowboys front-7 is dangerously thin heading into Monday night’s game against Philly.

In all fairness, last week things weren’t that much better. While the Dallas Cowboys had Neal, Armstrong, and Watkins, they didn’t have Randy Gregory. Even though we’re still waiting for Gregory to take that next big step in his development, he’s by far the best of four players just listed. But with that added quality comes a significant hit to the quantity. As in quantity of players available.

With resources along the line spread thin, the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is going to have to come up with some creative ways to keep this defensive front standing. Rotations will be short (out of necessity) and injuries are simply not an option.

But as the saying goes: “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” Dan Quinn and his defensive coaching staff will need to come up with some options if injury befalls the club again.

The Eagles ground game isn’t great in the traditional sense but Jalen Hurts has been a beast on scrambles and could have his way with this D-line if they let him.

Something I’ve suggested in the past was moving to more 3-3-5 looks that uses the front three in more containment 2-gap roles and pulls from the linebacker corps to rush the passer – either off the edge or up the middle. It’s harder for offenses to prepare for because they don’t know where that fourth rusher is coming from. And most importantly it emphasizes coverage since it’s basically a nickel defense.

Whatever this Plan B ends up being, it’s going to be a challenge for even a tenured staff like Quinn’s. Game plans are easy if you have the pieces but the Dallas Cowboys just don’t have the pieces. This coaching staff needs to be ready to pivot in a number of different directions.

Must Read. Dallas should sit back, contain Hurts, and dare them to run the ball. light

The coaching staff is being tested already with their lack of personnel, if someone else falls to injury, they’ll get their greatest test to-date. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

  • Published on 09/27/2021 at 18:49 PM
  • Last updated at 09/27/2021 at 18:49 PM