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Cowboys news: Dallas pass rush ranked eighth in a preseason poll

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Checking in on the Cowboys news you need.

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

NFL pass-rush rankings: All 32 team’s entering 2018 - Gordon McGuinness, Pro Football Focus
PFF provides their offseason rankings of each team’s pass rush. I’m pretty sure this is the first time the Cowboys, ranked number eight, have been placed in the top ten since DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer were wreaking havoc on opposing offensive lines.

Pressure Percentage as a team, 2017: 38.4% (7th)

Lawrence finally delivered at the level the Cowboys were hoping for in 2017, racking up 15 sacks, 12 hits and 52 hurries before being hit with the franchise tag this offseason. Provided he can live up to his 2017 performance, the Cowboys should be in good shape once again, but they would be in much better shape if their 2017 first-round pick Charlton can take a step forward. From 232 pass-rushing snaps last season, the former Michigan standout managed just 21 total pressures. Crawford impressed as a pass-rusher last season as well, producing 37 total hurries, but with Irving, who produced 30 total pressures on the interior in 2017, missing the first four games of the 2018 season, this is a unit which has the potential to be very good again, albeit with a couple of question marks.


Cowboys content to play game of tag on DeMarcus Lawrence - Todd Archer, ESPN
In an unsurprising development, the Cowboys and All Pro defensive end Demarcus Lawrence did not agree on a long-term deal by Monday’s 4 PM deadline, meaning Lawrence will play as a Cowboy under the league franchise player tag.

The deadline for the Cowboys and Lawrence to reach a long-term deal came and went, and since there had been no meaningful discussions since March, that was not surprising.

So where does that leave Lawrence and the Cowboys?

Lawrence will make $17.143 million on the franchise tag, the benefit of his breakout 14.5-sack season in 2017. In his first four years, he made about $5.3 million as the Cowboys’ second-round pick in 2014. So he will more than triple his career earnings in 2018 under the tag.

But there is no long-term security like Zack Martin received in June with the Pro Bowl right guard’s six-year extension that guaranteed him $40 million.

If Lawrence is able to put up another double-digit sack season, the Cowboys could put the franchise tag on him in 2019 at roughly $20 million if the sides are unable to reach a long-term agreement before the 2019 league year begins.

Here’s why DeMarcus Lawrence doesn’t view the franchise tag as an insult - David Moore, SportsDay
The SportsDay’s David Moore provides more details on the Lawrence non-signing, indicating Lawrence is happy to embrace the opportunity.

But unlike those who have come before him -- please see Dez Bryant in 2015 -- Lawrence doesn’t view the franchise tag as an insult. He doesn’t brace for a separation as running back Le’Veon Bell does in Pittsburgh.

”I’m not everybody else,’’ Lawrence explained two months ago. “I’m DeMarcus Lawrence, and DeMarcus Lawrence does what DeMarcus Lawrence wants to do.’’

What Lawrence wants to do is put together another strong season to drive his price up even more. He accrued 14.5 sacks last season. That’s half-a-sack more than defensive end Olivier Vernon managed in the two seasons before he hit the free agent market in ‘16.

That earned Vernon a five-year, $85 million deal -- with $52.5 million guaranteed -- from the New York Giants. If Lawrence has 25-plus sacks over a two-year span, what can he expect?

Naturally, we can leave it to Ian Rappaport to weigh in with a differing view, claiming Lawrence won’t play on the franchise tag in 2019. Of course, Rapoport has no actual quotes, instead citing a “source”.

Attempting to find a home field advantage where one has been missing – Bob Sturm, The Athletic
Sturm gives us a good-news, bad-news breakdown on the Cowboys’ home/road splits since moving into Cowboys Stadium.

Since Cowboys Stadium opened in 2009, only one team in the NFL has fewer home wins than road wins – the Dallas Cowboys.

Think about that. This is a league where the home team wins 57% of the time and over that stretch, every single team in professional football has a better home record than a road record. If they are a good team, they are even better at home. If they are a bad team, anything good they accomplish happens at home.

30 of 32 teams have more home wins than road wins over the last nine seasons. Another team, Tampa Bay, has the same number of wins – 25 both home and away. And at the end of the line comes Dallas, with five more road wins than home wins.

Do you want the good news or bad news first?

The good news is during those nine years, only nine teams have more regular season wins than the Cowboys. You can see them below and you can pretty much find the Super Bowl winners in there (save for the amazingly mysterious New York Giants who have a way of popping up and winning a Super Bowl in between a series of mediocre and forgettable seasons).

Richard Sherman’s Cornerback Academy, More NFL Offseason News - Robert Klemko, SI.com
If you like taking results from the previous season and making a pre-season ranking that looks almost identical, you'll love the Monday Morning Quarterback's first 2018 "Power Ranking".

15. Dallas Cowboys 2017 record: 9-7

I like the Allen Hurns signing. I like the idea of 16 games of Ezekiel Elliott. They still have a top-five offensive line. Is it enough to beat Philadelphia in the NFC East? Probably not.

1. Philadelphia Eagles 2017 record: 13-3

There’s no reason to dethrone the champs at this time, especially with a better quarterback replacing the one who gave Philly its first Super Bowl victory.

Cowboys legend says the Hall of Fame is right to ignore Terrell Owens - Jared Dubin, CBSSports.com
Cowboys Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin chimes in with his thoughts on the NFL choosing to largely ignore former Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens at this season's Hall of Fame induction ceremony, despite Owens being a member of the class.

"We can't spend this moment for all these other guys talking about the guy that is not here," Irvin said. "You cannot do that and take that away. He's doing his own thing wherever he's doing his own thing, and God bless him. And when they mention the class, they'll mention him, but why should you steal those other guys' moment because of the decision of this one? I think it's the right move. They're not saying he's not going to have a bust in the room. They're not saying he's not getting his jacket. They're saying, 'We're honoring his wish. He doesn't want to be here with us, we're going to mention him as little as possible.' I think it's the right move."

Two-Point Study – Noah Riley, Riley-Kolste Football
A deep, deep dive into the 2-point play, which plays work, which don't, and why they're so important. I wasn't surprised to see that the "fade" isn't a high percentage play down near the end-zone. This is a terrific read with generous video and chart support.

In the 2017 NFL season, there were 96 two-point conversion attempts, many of those coming in key situations which decided the outcome of the game. There were also several 3rd/4th and goal plays that had a critical impacts on the outcome of games. In the past two super bowls alone, there were four 2-point conversions attempted. Without converting on both of their attempts in Super Bowl LI, the Patriots don’t beat the Falcons. In that same game, the game winning touchdown was on the 3rd 2-point play the Patriots had in their game plan. Also, the famous “Philly special” that helped the Eagles win last year’s Super Bowl was run on 4th and goal (which is a similar situation to a 2 point play). Since many games are won and lost on 2-point conversion type plays, it is important for a coach to have a great plan to convert.

What DeMarco Murray's retirement spells out for the Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott, Emmitt Smith, and the NFL in general - Tim Cowlishaw, SportsDay
Cowlishaw uses DeMarco Murray's retirement to trot out the "heavy usage destroys running backs" theory as a harbinger of Ezekiel Elliott's future.

There is a history of backs suffering major drops in production after carrying a heavy load in the 400-carry range.

It includes Shaun Alexander, Larry Johnson, Ricky Williams, Tiki Barber, Jamal Lewis, Michael Turner and more. After their huge seasons, their averages tumble and their careers are over sooner than expected.

In Murray’s case, he carried the ball 392 times and caught 57 passes in 2014. All season he said he was fine with the load. Got 48 more touches in the postseason.

We won't mention that Murray had been good, not great, prior to 2014. Or that Cowlishaw's cherry-picked list of players were players who, like Murray, generally had less-than-stellar careers prior to their big season. Or that virtually every Hall of Fame running back has a pedigree similar to Elliott's and held up well despite heavy usage. Well, okay, we will mention all of that.