We've spent a lot of time bemoaning the Dallas Cowboys lack of a pass rush this offseason. Rightly so, as the Cowboys only had 31 sacks on the 2015 season. In addition, they will not have Greg Hardy back and Randy Gregory will be suspended for the first four games. They've made a couple of new additions to the defensive line in Cedric Thornton and Benson Mayowa, but neither of those players are sure bets to boost the sacks total for the Cowboys or significantly up their pressure. So there is plenty to worry about.
There is also something else to worry about. The Cowboys run defense we also bad last year. In today's NFL, the passing game and stopping the passing game gets the majority of the focus given the evolution of the game. Still, stopping the run is pretty important in the NFL. It's not something Dallas does well. In the "old school" metric of run defense, they were 22nd in the league giving up 121 yards per game on the ground. If you use the more "new school" metric of DVOA from Football Outsiders, the Cowboys run defense ranked 29th in the league. The Cowboys defense gave up the second-most first downs on the ground in the entire league. It sure makes it a lot easier on teams when they can pick up first downs against you on the ground. Only six other teams had more rushing attempts against their defense for the 2015 season, a sure sign that teams could run on the Cowboys defense, and did it often.
Of course some of that is because the Cowboys offense became so inept without Tony Romo that teams weren't forced to gamble as much. They could take the less risky options on many plays and at the end of games could try and grind down the clock on Dallas instead of desperately trying to catch up.
So when looking at adding players in the draft on defense, are we concentrating too much on how they will perform against the pass, and not enough against the run? Or should we focus the attention on stopping the pass and let the chips fall where they may?
Your thoughts, BTB?