The Cowboys’ pass rushing woes have been lamented over and over again as the reasoning behind the unfortunate early departures from the playoffs in both 2014 and 2016. We’ve established the fact that the Cowboys need some help defensively to take it to the next level and they hope to fix their pass rush as best they can this offseason.
For some folks, it will not suffice until the Dallas Cowboys sign a premium pass rusher via the draft or free agency. Here’s the issue; it’s not going to happen. Sure, the Cowboys could very well find a solid fit at 28 for a pass rusher but he’s going to need development. As far as free agency is concerned, look for names like Terrell McClain and Jack Crawford, not Jason Pierre-Paul or Lorenzo Alexander. They’re just not interested in offering out big dollars for guys they don’t know will fit.
It’s been quite a few years since the Cowboys have had a double-digit sack artist in now retired Jason Hatcher in 2013. It’s been since 2011 since they were in the Top-10 in terms of sacks on the field. Finding premium pass rushers is not an easy task and the Cowboys have done a lot in that time to hope to fix their problems. The one thing they haven’t done is throw big money at the problem but why would they? Just because something like that may work out for the New York Giants doesn’t mean it’ll work out for you.
In fact, the two teams that made the Super Bowl this year, the Patriots and Falcons, tied for 16th in the league in sacks with 34 each. Your Dallas Cowboys had 36 sacks ranking them above both those teams at 13th. The two other participants in the AFC and NFC Championship games, the Steelers and Packers, both ranked in the Top-10 in sacks, both were ousted in embarrassing fashion.
As much help as this team needs, with Randy Gregory out indefinitely, DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford mending constant injuries; maybe their true hope is already on the roster. Think about this, Dallas’ has pieces to build around. The emergence of young players like David Irving and Maliek Collins gives the Cowboys somewhere to start. Considering they made a jump from 28th in 2014 to 25th in 2015 to 13th in sacks for 2016, that’s progress.
Jerry Jones is out there talking about how they’re looking for a “War Daddy”, a Rod Marinelli term for a guy that has to be reckoned with. If you pay closer attention to his quote it tells the better story:
“If I have a chance to bring one of these premier pass rusher, one of these war daddies that takes two to block, if I have a chance to get a player like that, I would,” Jones told ESPN/103.3 FM’s “J-Dub City” last week on discussing finding a pass rusher.
“It’s not a question of that. It’s a question of, where is he? And who gives him up if he’s a veteran, or where is he in the draft, or where is he anywhere. So, yeah we do need pressure. We’re going to try to do something about it.”
But he added, “Nobody gives up the ideal pass rusher.”
Everyone wants a “War Daddy” but where is it that you hope to find him at? There isn’t a free agent pass rusher out there that is the definition of that term. We’ve brought forth names in free agency but none of them are worth the big dollars it will take to sign them. In JPP’s case, the Giants are going to create the room necessary to keep him but do you think a guy with two double-digit sack performances in seven seasons is a “War Daddy”?
Even a guy like DeMarcus Ware has the name recognition that will fit a certain dollar amount. As touching a storied return home would be, he’s 34 and hasn’t started 16 games since 2012 and missed 11 games in his three years away. Ware’s “War Daddy” days are long gone and in order to have his reunion, he’d have to take a lot less and be mostly a spot-player. Another name is Carolina’s Mario Addison, a rotational player who has 25.5 sacks over a nine-year career and blew up this past season with 9.5 of those sacks. Not exactly what Mr. Jones is looking for don’t you think?
The point is that even good pass rushers are pretty hard to find and great ones are precious gold to never be let loose. Our visions of grandeur about having a ferocious defensive line can still happen but it’s going to take time. The Cowboys’ brass does know what they’re doing and it’s called rational thinking. To truly win big, you have to build your own and keep them there. That’s what the front office has been doing though it’s created impatience and angst.
While other teams may go out on a spending spree, Dallas prefers to build through the draft and retain their own. Even those Giants, who found success in spending lots of money, were bludgeoned in the Wild Card round. It may not be the sexiest way to build a roster but it’s the sound way of building your roster. Teams like the Patriots, Steelers, Packers, and Seahawks do it this way and they are routinely competing for titles.
So, in essence, when March rolls around and the team starts signing guys like Crawford or McClain, remember that those guys helped build a 13-3 season. Don’t lose your lunch over the Cowboys’ not making big pushes for the marquee names. The Dallas Cowboys will do whatever is in their power to get better as long as it makes sense. They’ll make a few smart signings here and there and do the majority of their work in the draft. Dallas is past the days of overspending on a guy you thought you couldn’t live without. This ball club knows all too well that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.