Matchup No. 2
Tyler Larsen vs Osa Odighizuwa
Another offensive lineman vs defensive lineman matchup, but I promise I picked this for a reason!
Dallas has two starters returning to the defensive line this week with Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore coming off injured reserve this week. Last week DeMarcus Lawrence made his return from a broken foot sustained in practice at the beginning of the season. All these three with Micah Parsons playing as well as he is right now is leaving many Cowboys fans optimistic about how good the defensive line will be at generating pressure.
With all the injuries that have transpired, it’s forced other rotational defensive linemen to play more and those who previously started received more attention over the last month and a half. One of those players has been third-round pick Osa Odighizuwa.
When the Cowboys were enjoying their win streak at the beginning of the season, Odighizuwa was integral at generating pressure from the interior. He was generating pressure on over 14 percent of snaps landing him two sacks in the seven-week stretch. As the season progressed, injuries started hampering the team and thus his production. Over the last five games, Odighizuwa has generated pressure on more than 10 percent of snaps just once.
With several players returning and amongst the best at their positions relative to the rest of the defensive line, it should give Osa Odighizuwa the opportunity to match up one-on-one for most of the game. With his versatility to line up anywhere from 0 to 5 technique, it’s hard to peg him in a spot where he plays most of the game, but if I had to guess he probably splits time playing against Washington guard Ereck Flowers and center Tyler Larsen.
Chase Roullier broke his fibula against the Denver Broncos was designated out for the rest of the season; that alone was a big loss for Washington as he was their best offensive lineman on a line that had little continuity due to injuries. Tyler Larsen stepped in at center and performed admirably before he suffered what looks like a sprained MCL against the Carolina Panthers. After missing a week, he’s practiced all week and looks like a go for Sunday, but he will still be hobbled by his knee injury.
Before his injury, Larsen allowed two pressures and one QB hit on 82 snaps. His pass-blocking efficiency is above 98 percent. This number also comes against good defensive lines in Denver and Tampa Bay. Larsen has provided Washington a necessary level of security on the inside while they figure out things across the rest of the line.
So how does a guy who’s playing well, admittedly before a fairly serious knee injury, present an intriguing matchup against a rookie who’s currently facing his rookie wall? Simple, the Cowboys are getting healthy and that alone should be enough to stress Washington’s offensive line and their execution. As the game progresses, the offensive line will be forced to slide protect to various sides or max protect the edges hopefully providing Odighizuwa with one-on-opportunities to use his length and upfield burst to his advantage and crumble the pocket.
It’s understood that Dallas’s edge rushers are going to create problems, will the interior defensive line join the party as well?
Washington QB Taylor Heinicke is mobile and can create out of the pocket, so Dallas’s ability generate pressure especially through the interior was going to be a point of emphasis if they want to shut down Washington’s offense this week. Last week, the Cowboys were quite porous at stopping at Taysom Hill when he was using his legs; hopefully, history won’t repeat itself.
(All stats provided by PFF)