Improving Your Pass Rush 101: Lesson 2, Invest In Pass Rush Talent


Welcome back class, I hope you enjoyed the holiday break and took some time to relax from our lesson. For some of you new students, my name is professor ChiaCrack and I will be your teacher for the semester. Last week in our first lesson on improving your pass rush, we talked about disruptive defensive lineman, primarily the five technique.

For those of you who just enrolled, borrow a classmates notes and jot them down. It is vital that you understand the first lesson and there will be a test at the end of the semester, involving each segment.

I planned to install the Almost Anthony Spencer Syndrome into my lesson plan as the second lesson, but instead I am going to throw you a curve ball today.

We will discuss and analyze the rest of the NFC East and how they have invested into getting pass rushing talent on their roster.

(Door slams open and Jerry Jones enters the classroom winded, out of breath, and carrying his books)

Jerry Jones- I am sooooo sorry hoss. I was installing and renovating my Scrooge McDuck money swimming pool at my mansion. The pool guys were just so gosh darned cool, I decided to break out my 250 year old scotch with them. I am sorry Chia, it won't happen again.

Professor ChiaCrack- Mr. Jones, this class is designed for you actually. I don't give a flying fiddlestick why you are late and it disgusts me to even look at you. My name is PROFESSOR CHIACRACK, I am not Chia or pal or hoss to you. Do you understand Mr. Jones?

Jerry Jones- Yessum

Professor ChiaCrack- You are the general manager of the Dallas Cowboys and honestly I could devote a whole class just to why that is wrong. Instead, I encourage you to actually LEARN something in my classroom Mr. Jones.

Jerry Jones- Yessum, I am sorry about my tardiness, it won't happen again.

Professor ChiaCrack- Yeah, that's what I thought.

Jerry begins to walk to the back of the classroom and high fives Wade in the back of the class.

Professor ChiaCrack- Mr. Jones, where in the hell do you think you are going?

Jerry Jones- I am getting a seat here next to my pal Wade.


Jerry Jones walks in front and takes a seat next to Jason Garrett, who is writing down notes and paying attention. Rob Ryan just shakes his head in disgust. Meanwhile Wade Phillips bolts for the door, he doesn't like confrontations.

Jerry sneaks Jason Garrett a note, the note reads, Jason man is this guy a mean SOB. I have been owner and GM for 22 years!

Professor ChiaCrack snatches the note out of Jason Garrett's hand.

Professor ChiaCrack- You know Jason I expected more out of you. You get a pass this time.

Jason Garrett turns red, redder than usual.

Professor ChiaCrack- Yeah that is the exact problem Mr. Jones, you are the GM and have been making all of the decisions for 22 years. Second strike Mr. Jones, one more and you are out of here.

Jerry apologizes and takes out his iPad.

Sorry for that class, where were we?

Rob Ryan- We were talking about the rest of the NFC East and how they have acquired pass rushing talent.

Ah, yes thank you Mr. Ryan. If only you were given more talent this year.

The NFC East has followed a strict policy when it comes to adding pass rushing talent to their rosters. Over the years, the rest of the East has drafted and signed pass rushers to bolster their pass rush. The Cowboys have not addressed their pass rushing needs with the same intensity that the rest of the division has.

While the rest of the East was out getting pass rushers, we dropped the ball and ignored it. Part of the problem was the Cowboys being too confident in DeMarcus Ware supplying all the sacks and the belief that Anthony Spencer was a premier pass rusher. Ware cannot do this alone, he needs help. As evident by Spencer's play the last five seasons, we can assume that the Cowboys will need to step up to the plate and deliver a better pass rusher opposite of Ware.

Due to the lack of adding pass rushing talent, the Cowboys have a major hole in this area. Ware is still a premier talent, but is approaching the downside of his career. Spencer will have to be replaced. Victor Butler offers you some pass rushing ability, but that isn't enough.

Instead of adding more pass rushers, the Cowboys chose to ignore that area and now are in trouble. This can be fixed, all isn't lost. If you sign or draft a premier pass rusher and also add some depth, this area can become a strength.

First let us take a look at the Cowboys recent drafts and see how badly they ignored adding pass rushing talent.

  • 2011 no pass rushers were drafted
  • 2010, Sean Lissemore was drafted in the 7th round, a good looking five technique
  • 2009, Victor Butler and Brandon Williams were drafted in the fourth round. Butler looks like a pass rushing talent, but not a starter. Williams was a Wade pick and is no longer with the team.
  • 2008, The Cowboys draft Erik Walden in the 6th round, only to release him a short time later. Walden is now one of the Packers better pass rushers.
  • 2007, The great Anthony Spencer was drafted in the first round over LaMarr Woodley. I still don't understand why the Cowboys chose Spencer over Woodley, especially considering how poor Spencer's combine numbers were.
  • 2006, Jason Hatcher was drafted in the 3rd round. Hatcher has been on the Cowboys for a long time and is finally developing into something.
  • 2005, This was Parcells finally building his defense and getting key players. First rounders DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears. In the 4th round the Cowboys landed the talented Chris Canty and eventually did not resign him. We are still looking to replace him. In the 7th round, one of the best nose tackles in the league was drafted. Jay Ratliff is one of the premier defensive players in the NFL.

Free agency hasn't been great either. There has been no urgency in free agency to retain our pass rushers. There has been no urgency to go out and sign pass rushing talent either.

  • Igor Olshansky was signed instead of Chris Canty. Igor was solid his first year, but fell off instantly after that. We are still looking to replace Canty.
  • Stephen Bowen wasn't resigned, but Spears and Hatcher were. Hatcher looks like a pass rushing end, Spears looks like the same old run stuffing end.
  • Kenyon Coleman was signed, but is another run stuffing end.

The Giants

  • 2011, Drafted Marvin Austin in the second round.
  • 2010, Drafted Jason Pierre Paul in the first round and Linval Joseph in the second.
  • 2006, Drafted Mathias Kiwanuka in the first round. Drafted Barry Coefield in the fourth round.
  • 2005, Drafted Justin Tuck in the third round.
  • 2003, Drafted Osi Umenyiora in the second round.

Free Agency

  • Signed Chris Canty after we decided not to bring him back. Canty just adds more depth to their amazing front four and arsenal of pass rushers.

The Eagles

  • 2010, Drafted Brandon Graham in the first round. Still has yet to prove himself, but is talented.
  • 2008, Drafted Trevor Laws in the second round.
  • 2005, Drafted Trent Cole in the fifth round.

Free Agency

  • Signed Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins. The Eagles are by no means the blueprint to follow, but they addressed their pass rushing issues and added more talent. Babin and Cole are big time pass rushers. Jenkins is another threat that can play inside as well. If Graham ever comes around, that is another dangerous front four.

The Redskins

  • 2011, Drafted Ryan Kerrigan in the first round. Drafted Jarvis Jenkins in the second round.
  • 2010, Drafted Perry Riley in the fourth round.
  • 2009, Drafted Brian Orakpo in the first round.

Free Agency

  • Signed Barry Coefield and Stephen Bowen in 2011. In the last few years, the Redskins have really upgraded their pass rushing unit. Kerrigan and Orakpo look like a real force and they have guys on the interior in place too.


The rest of the division has stocked up on pass rushing talent. Only a few guys on our roster really offer us any pass rush, one being Ware and he contributes to almost 50 percent of our sacks. The other is a nose tackle and his primary job isn't to rush the passer.

The Giants have a stockpile of pass rushing talent. JPP and Tuck could be a problem for years. They also have depth and guys who can rush from the interior.

The Eagles have Babin and Cole, that could be a problem for years. They also have good interior rushers.

The Redskins have Orakpo and Kerrigan, that could be a problem for years. They also have good interior rushers.

Anthony Spencer is a problem folks and he has to be replaced. Spencer was tied for 49th, with six sacks. To put that into perspective, Aaron Maybin had the same amount of sacks. A bunch of rookies put up six sacks too. His production can be improved with a replacement. Six sacks in a season is Spencer's career high and has never had more than six in a season.

Signing and drafting some pass rushers will bolster our pass rush. If we replace Spencer and pair Ware with a player who can get more than six sacks, our pass rush will be so much better. If we sign or draft a five tech who can rush the passer, it will only improve our pass rush even more.

It's time to start upgrading this pass rush, because the rest of the division is already one step ahead of us in that area. We either need to build this offensive line into one of the best, or try to keep up with the rest of the East and add more pass rushers. If we have Ware, Ratliff, Hatcher, Butler, and two additions to the pass rush who are good, then this pass rush suddenly will look dangerous again.

In lesson three we will finally get into the Almost Anthony Spencer Syndrome in full detail. Class is dismissed.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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