Two years ago, it was broken. Last year, it was on the mend. I'm talking about the Dallas Cowboys defense. In 2013, it was historically bad and was the main culprit in another 8-8 season. In 2014, the bleeding stopped. Although they were still struggling in a lot of major statistical categories, at least they made plays. Key turnovers were crucial to the Cowboys playoff resurgence. So it was with great anticipation that in the 2015 offseason the Cowboys loaded up on draft picks and free agents to help this ailing unit.
Dallas has made a couple of moves to fix their secondary. The big one was picking Byron Jones in the first round. He'll likely see a lot of time on defense this season, either at corner or safety. They also brought in vet Corey White for insurance and they hope Mo Claiborne is on the mend.
At linebacker, they get Sean Lee back, they re-signed free agent Rolando McClain and they drafted Damien Wilson. They dipped into the free agency pool with guys like Jasper Brinkley and Andrew Gachkar. These additions, along with the ones in the secondary, should provide an upgraded back seven.
But without a doubt, the area they needed the most improvement in was on the defensive line. Especially concerning the pass rush. Dallas addressed that too, bringing in defensive ends Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory. They also drafted Ryan Russell, and Ben Gardner returns from injury. They have some pieces to match up with last year's holdovers.
There is one thing I'm so looking forward to in the 2015 season. And that is when the opposition is in a passing situation, the Cowboys put on the field a defensive line of DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory. If we can't get a decent pass rush out of that lineup, then we are truly cursed by the Football Gods.
That is a lineup that should unleash terror on opposing quarterbacks. Hardy is a premier pass rusher, as good as they get, and he has proven on tape he can rush from the inside, too. Tyrone Crawford was a disruptive force inside last year and is really just learning how to play his position. He should be much better with an offseason exclusively at tackle. DeMarcus Lawrence finally started showing what he could do in the playoffs. After recovering from his foot injury, it took a while, but he finally flashed the talent the Cowboys saw when they drafted him. Randy Gregory is the real unknown here, but let us never forget, almost everybody believed he was a Top-15 talent in this year's draft. Under Rod Marinelli, he has a chance to be special.
Of course, this is the optimist's view. We could just as easily say Hardy's suspension remains and keeps him out of too many games. Lawrence turns out to be more like his regular season work and less like his post-season work. Gregory is a rookie, he doesn't develop, or some off the field issue removes him from the roster. Yes, these things could happen.
But sitting here in June, dreaming of the regular season, when I close my eyes and see the Cowboys defense, I see Lawrence, Crawford, Hardy and Gregory devouring quarterbacks.