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Snap Counts For The Cowboys’ Defense: David Irving, Benson Mayowa, & Anthony Hitchens Starred

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We evaluate whether Dallas is using its players well, and how well each of them is producing.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Overview

This was a tale of two halves for the defense. In the first half, the defense was shredded on the ground by Zack Zenner for 64 yards on 10 carries, and two touchdowns. Matthew Stafford sneaked for a third Detroit touchdown, and the game was tied 21-21 at the half. In the second half, Dallas forced two takeaways, sacked Stafford three times, and shut out the Lions. Dallas won 42-21.

With four more sacks, and two takeaways, that makes 11 sacks and nine takeways over the last three games. The Dallas defense is definitely hitting its stride. Dallas is now tied for sixth in turnover ratio at plus-7, and is tied for 14th with 34 sacks. Last year, Dallas was dead last in turnover ratio in 2015, and 27th in sacks.

Though Detroit started the game running the ball well, as soon as they fell behind in the second half, they abandoned the run, finishing the night with 90 yards. Dallas remains the only team in the NFL that hasn’t given up 100 yards to a rusher this season.

The defensive stars were the rushmen, who started the game with only a seven-man rotation, and promptly lost both Terrell McClain and Ryan Davis to injuries. It was the first game back for Randy Gregory, who was eager and showed his speed, but strained an oblique muscle and tried to fight through it.

The Defensive Line

DeMarcus Lawrence, Cedric Thornton, and Tyrone Crawford were all held out to recover from injuries. Dallas activated Randy Gregory, cutting Zach Moore to create a spot. When Terrell McClain and Ryan Davis went down after 12 and 9 snaps respectively, Dallas was down to five linemen, which forced David Irving to play 67 and Maliek Collins to play 65 snaps out of 71 total.

Here are the counts out of 71 snaps.

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Gm 14 Gm 15 Total Total Percent
Maliek Collins DT 15 333 28 34 49 46 46 65 601 982 61%
Tyrone Crawford DE/DT 14 384 36 49 49 50 25 0 593 982 60%
Jack Crawford DE/DT 15 356 20 25 22 23 21 43 510 982 52%
Terrell McClain DT 15 314 21 24 31 29 40 12 471 982 48%
David Irving DE/DT 15 179 26 43 41 36 38 67 430 982 44%
Benson Mayowa DE 12 202 0 0 22 42 34 42 342 982 35%
DeMarcus Lawrence DE 9 168 41 52 55 13 0 0 329 982 34%
Cedric Thornton DT 13 193 18 21 21 24 0 0 277 982 28%
Ryan Davis DE 8 80 14 24 0 0 28 9 155 982 16%
Randy Gregory DE 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 23 23 982 2%

Maliek Collins, the rookie, has now played more snaps than any other Cowboy defensive lineman this year.

The official stats were:

  • David Irving, three tackles, 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, a pass defensed, and a forced fumble.
  • Benson Mayowa, two tackles, one tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and two quarterback hits.
  • Maliek Collins, one tackle, one sack, one tackle for loss, and three quarterback hits.
  • Jack Crawford, four tackles.
  • Randy Gregory, two tackles, and a quarterback hit.
  • Terrell McClain, no stats on 12 snaps.
  • Ryan Davis, no stats on 9 snaps.
  • Kyle Wilber, three snaps.

This defensive line is definitely hitting its stride. Several players are getting rested to heal injuries, and the Cowboys have to hope they’ll be able to hit the ground running when they return for the playoffs. Meanwhile, David Irving, Benson Mayowa, and Maliek Collins are all peaking, while Randy Gregory is entering a crash course in getting up to speed.

The Linebackers

Here are the stats:

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Gm 14 Gm 15 Total Total Percent
Sean Lee LB 15 576 55 75 74 67 62 68 977 982 99%
Anthony Hitchens LB 15 284 26 44 52 44 37 54 541 982 55%
Justin Durant LB 13 220 28 5 0 13 16 0 282 982 29%
Damien Wilson LB 15 70 15 42 26 7 18 31 209 982 21%
Kyle Wilber LB 9 37 0 0 0 0 0 3 40 982 4%
Andrew Gachkar LB 9 29 0 0 0 0 0 0 29 982 3%

Sean Lee didn’t have his best night, but his locker room pep talk at halftime seemed to be the message the defense needed to hear, as they shut out the Lions in the second half. Justin Durant missed the game due to an injury.

  • Anthony Hitchens, 9 tackles.
  • Sean Lee, 5 tackles.
  • Damien Wilson, two tackles.

The Secondary

Mo Claiborne missed another game, but J.J. Wilcox was back. Anthony Brown went under the concussion protocol after nine plays, forcing Byron Jones to move into the slot cornerback role, and Orlando Scandrick to move outside.

Player Pos Games Gms 1-9 Gm 10 Gm 11 Gm 12 Gm 13 Gm 14 Gm 15 Total Season Percent
Brandon Carr CB 15 574 55 75 74 67 62 71 978 982 100%
Anthony Brown CB 15 338 42 59 74 67 61 9 650 982 66%
Orlando Scandrick CB 11 249 53 75 54 60 46 71 608 982 62%
Morris Claiborne CB 9 408 0 0 0 0 0 0 408 982 42%
Leon McFadden CB 2 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 17 982 2%
Byron Jones S 15 515 55 75 74 67 61 71 918 982 93%
Barry Church S 11 379 0 0 72 67 57 69 644 982 66%
J.J. Wilcox S 12 371 55 47 0 0 0 51 524 982 53%
Jeff Heath S 15 69 17 42 24 16 17 22 207 982 21%
Kavon Frazier S 2 0 0 14 0 0 2 0 16 982 2%

Matthew Stafford was 26 of 46 for 260 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a forced fumble, for a 63.7 quarterback rating. J.J. Wilcox intercepted a ball tipped by Brandon Carr that led to a Dallas touchdown at the start of the third quarter and gave Dallas the lead for good.

Here are the official stats.

  • Barry Church, 12 tackles.
  • Orlando Scandrick, five tackles, two passes defensed, and a forced fumble.
  • Byron Jones, five tackles.
  • Anthony Brown, one pass defense.
  • Jeff Heath, three tackles and a pass defensed.

Special Teams

There are six special teams: field goal kicks and blocks, kick off returns and coverage, and punt returns and coverage. The numbers below are mostly for kick off and punt returns and coverage.

  • Kyle Wilber, Jeff Heath, Damien Wilson, 24 snaps.
  • Byron Jones, 22
  • Andrew Gachkar, 19
  • Kavon Frazier, Vincent Mayle, 15
  • Keith Smith, 11
  • Gavin Escobar, 10
  • Lance Dunbar, Lucky Whitehead, 7

Detroit’s punter outpunted Chris Jones by a net of 6.2 yards, where each punted four times. Dan Bailey had no field goal attempts.

Defensive snap counts - game 2 - Washington

Defensive snap counts - game 3 - Bears

Defensive snap counts - game 4 - Niners

Defensive snap counts - game 5 - Cincinnati

Defensive snap counts - game 6 - Green Bay

Snap counts at the bye

Defensive snap counts - game 7 - Philadelphia

Defensive snap counts - game 8- Cleveland

Defensive snap counts - game 9 - Pittsburgh

Defensive snap counts - game 10 - Baltimore

Defensive snap counts - game 11 - Washington

Defensive snap counts - game 12 - Minnesota

Defensive snap counts - game 13 - New York

Defensive snap counts - game 14 - Tampa Bay