Full disclosure - I’m a big fan of David Irving.
After being poached from the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad in 2015, he only played in 199 snaps on the year (18.84%). He flashed some good play, including a blocked field goal against the Seattle Seahawks, but he was still a forgotten piece to the Cowboys defensive line. Entering his second season, we wrote a piece about him taking a big step forward.
When your defensive line group finally breaks the seal on showing the world that they have talent, there is always one player that nobody has heard of that breaks out. Irving can be that player. The 22-year old has great athleticism and showed up on tape several times last season. Despite playing inside at defensive tackle, he’s got the speed to play on the edge. He shows great thrust and can attack the run well, which makes him a good candidate for being a two-down player, but don’t sleep on his pass rushing skills. Irving gave us all a glimpse of his talent last year, but look for him to break out on the scene this season.
Irving didn’t break onto the scene like we expected, but he did show good progress that year. And despite missing half the season last year, his impact when on the field was outstanding. Despite demonstrating some amazing ability on the field, the team was not sold on Irving going forward. They slapped a second-round tender on him this offseason, just baiting another team to come after his services. They didn’t. And with the recent news of his four-game suspension, emotions are running high.
Cowboys are so angered with David Irving, they plan to cut Lucky Whitehead again.— Matt Mosley (@mattmosley) June 15, 2018
That’s understandable. As our own RJ Ochoa points out - having a player start the season suspended has become the norm over the last five years.
Cowboys have had at least one defensive starter suspended to begin the season for five years in a row:— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) June 15, 2018
2014 - Orlando Scandrick
2015 - Greg Hardy, Rolando McClain
2016 - DeMarcus Lawrence
2017 - David Irving
2018 - David Irving
That's half of a decade.
What isn’t fact though is the idea that the Cowboys culture is responsible for this unfortunate series of events. That part is subjective. Many of us are proud of the environment Jason Garrett has created, but others don’t quite share that same sentiment.
David Irving’s drug suspension means the #Cowboys will open without a defensive starter because of suspension for fifth consecutive season. Maybe organizational tolerance is the reason this is such a recurring issue for the team.— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) June 16, 2018
Organizational tolerance? Is that the problem? Is Garrett not doing enough to convey to his players that this type of stuff hurts the team? Or is it possible the blame lies within the individual? The Dallas Morning News gave us some insight to Irving’s past, so let’s lay it all out on the table to see what they’re dealing with.
- Irving was kicked out of college after being charged with disorderly conduct where he was caught on film carrying a stop sign that had been pulled out of the ground. He would claim that someone handed him the sign and he only held it for a few seconds before handing it to someone else. Was he just a guy in the wrong place at the wrong time?
- His extra baggage caused him to go undrafted.
- He was suspended for four games last year for testing positive for PED’s, although he claims he wasn’t aware that what he was taken was in prohibited.
- He had to come out of the game against the Redskins last year when the hair product he was using reacted with the rain and ran into his eyes and he couldn’t see.
- This offseason has been a nightmare for Irving. Police investigated domestic violence in April after his girlfriend hacked his Twitter account making allegations. She later recanted on those claims.
- He didn’t participate in OTA’s last month because he wasn’t in shape.
- And now for the second-straight season, he’ll miss the first four games of the season serving a drug suspension.
Irving’s had problems wherever he’s gone and this isn’t anything you can blame on “organizational tolerance.” He got a taste of the workforce when he got kicked out of Iowa State and he didn’t like it. You’d think that would be a good reality check for him. Getting a second chance and being on the verge of making a huge amount and providing financial security for his daughter for the rest of her life would seem like all the incentive he would need to make good choices. But it’s not. He can’t get out of his own way and this would be happening regardless of what team he is playing for. You can’t blame Garrett for this one.
But the Cowboys had an idea of his trouble past, yet they went out and got him anyways. And after seeing the problems persist, they continued to hang on to him. Shouldn’t they have cut ties with him after the first suspension?
The Cowboys got Irving’s services for super cheap, averaging less than half a million per year over the last three seasons. That equates to $120,000 per sack. I haven’t seen savings like that since Charlie Day stocked up on peanuts in the movie Horrible Bosses. Clearly, the Cowboys are getting great return on their investment.
In 2017:— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) June 16, 2018
DeMarcus Lawrence averaged one sack every 48.3 snaps. He's an All Pro.
David Irving averaged one sack every 48.2 snaps. He's a head case.
The only difference last season between Tank and Dino was...availability. pic.twitter.com/sAfxCI2Ycc
Going after him was the right move. And slapping a second-round tender on him was also the right move. For us Dino-lovers, it didn’t make sense to risk losing him like that, but clearly the front office knew what they were doing.
Me five months ago: What is wrong with the Cowboys front office where they cannot see what they have in David Irving?— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) June 16, 2018
Me now: pic.twitter.com/ifEX4Uyt3N
Right from the get-go they’ve handled this the right way. It didn’t cost them much to get him and the upside is great if he could only keep his head on straight. Despite the disappointment of missing time, the Cowboys have still benefited from some of that upside. And when you they have a locker room full of high character guys, you have to applaud the job the organization has done in building a strong locker room. It’s not full-proof as people are fallible and will mess up. Every team has that. Do the Cowboys seem to have this problem every year? Yeah, but if you look at RJ’s list, three of the five players are no longer with the team and the two that are had some of the most efficient play-per-snap performances on the team last year.
Bad apples will show up, but that doesn’t mean the tree is poisoned.