It couldn’t have happened at a better time. With both of Dallas’ top-2 edge players residing on IR, someone had to step up and fill the void. And when the Dallas Cowboys stated Micah Parsons would be taking most of his snaps at LB once again, the worry, and the need, only grew.
Last week against Denver, the Dallas Cowboys edge players combined for one of their worst performances of the season. Facing a suspect O-line they sold out to collect highlight sacks. They were gashed on ground and thoroughly embarrassed as a result.
This week they’d have to correct course a man down. As alluded to earlier, Dallas lost Randy Gregory (their top pass rusher this year) to a mid-week injury. The second unit would have to muster the strength and ability to do what no one could last week. Enter Dorance Armstrong.
Dorance Armstrong showed impeccable timing by having the game of his career for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Dorance Armstrong has been a bit of a tease since joining the Dallas Cowboys as a fourth round pick back in 2018. The lineman from Kansas has been an annual standout the past few training camps but has been unable to carry that success over into the regular season.
While he’s never been given starter reps to showcase his talent, the opportunities have been there, logging at least 25% of his snaps in each of his three NFL seasons. Against Atlanta he played a whopping 70% and rewarded the Dallas Cowboys immensely.
Dorance Armstrong has long been a coach’s favorite in Dallas. Regardless of the coordinator, coaches have taken a liking to Armstrong’s focus, effort, and versatility. Standing 6-foot-4, 255lbs, Armstrong is strong enough to line-up and/or stunt inside, and he’s fast and athletic enough play the end, setting the edge against the run or turning the corner as a pass-rusher.
In the sack above he showed off his quickness and ability to pressure inside from a 2-point stance. That sack was his first of the season, and one of four total pressures logged in 20 pass-rushing snaps.
It didn’t end there. On special teams Armstrong made an even bigger impact. His punt block to close out the second half effectively put the nail in the coffin when rookie Nahshon Wright fell on the loose ball for a touchdown.
It wasn’t just that the block happened, but rather how it happened that’s so praiseworthy. Armstrong blocked that kick in about the safest way possible. The Dallas Cowboys special teams unit has a history of getting flagged for some inopportune drive-resuscitating penalties this season.
Dallas has repeatedly been flagged on opposing punts, and subsequently given the ball right back. So when Armstrong dove for the block at the recommended angle as to not get flagged, he gave the Dallas Cowboys all the reward with none of the risk. As things turned out, he actually blocked the punt with his armpit – not exactly how one would draw it up, but effective nonetheless.
It wasn’t all highlight plays on Sunday for Armstrong. He played the run extremely well too, limiting extra yards on the ground and giving Dallas a total performance – something they haven’t seen much from the DE position this year.
Is this a sign of things to come?
We hope so. Dorance Armstrong, just 24 years-old, has missed much of the season and this week was just his fifth game of the year. And with Gregory and Lawrence out, it was also the highest snap percentage he’s seen. His missed tackle percentage sits at 0.0% which is a sight to behold for anyone who’s watched the Cowboys D-line play the run this year.
The Dallas Cowboys need Armstrong to sustain this level of play the next three weeks while Gregory and Lawrence are out. This couldn’t have come at a better time