A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away the Dallas Cowboys could not determine where defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was going to play.
People fretted over Byron Jones and the will-they-won’t-they decision looming over him regarding cornerback or safety (thankfully corner won), but Crawford is the original position-flex chess piece as far as the current Cowboys are concerned.
Yes, it was only a few short years ago that Tyrone was continually shuffled inside and out to tackle and end. Thankfully the Cowboys finally decided that he was a defensive end, although some people wouldn’t give thanks to his play, and he even slimmed down to fit that mold.
Dallas has some unfortunate issues at defensive tackle these days though, and maybe that’s calling for the team to do something many have proposed, move Crawford back inside. With Maliek Collins coming off of a foot injury and David Irving a question mark. it makes sense to explore options and it seems that’s what the Cowboys are doing. Tyrone has gotten some work at defensive tackle on the first-team defense lately while Randy Gregory (!) took his spot outside.
First-team defense today: LDE-DeMarcus Lawrence, DT-Antwaun Woods, DT-Tyrone Crawford, RDE-Randy Gregory, WLB-Sean Lee, MLB-Jaylon Smith, SLB-Damien Wilson, CB-Byron Jones, CB-Chidobe Awuzie, S-Jeff Heath, S-Kavon Frazier— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 22, 2018
It might be time to start taking seriously the possibility of Randy Gregory being the opening day starter atm RE. Tyrone Crawford has been moved to under tackle, per Crawford. The Cowboys have a rash of injuries inside. Maliek Collins will be ready week 1 but ready to start?— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) August 22, 2018
A move back inside for Tyrone might cause many to roll their eyes at the Cowboys being indecisive with players’ positions, but, and stop me if you’ve heard this before, this might be for the best. It is again worth noting that Maliek Collins and David Irving aren’t supremely viable options at the moment and Tyrone Crawford is arguably the next-best man for the job. The Cowboys are adapting and they’re partly able to do so because of the emergence of younger players on the outside.
Jones was asked Wednesday if moving Crawford back inside was more about what the Cowboys have seen at end, or more about what they haven’t seen in practices from their tackle position.
“It’s more about what we have at end,” Jones said. “Tyrone has done a good job done there, especially rushing. It could be he does a little bit of both. He’s your base end on first down and then your rush tackle inside because he brings something unique to us, some mismatches that we like and allows you to get another pass rusher, a more athletic type on the end and bring some athleticism down inside that can be very helpful. Tyrone is the leader of that group, he and D-Law, and I have so much respect for him. All he wants to do is win football games and do what’s best for the team. I know wherever Rod and Jason [Garrett] and the staff thinks he can help us the most, I know he’s going to go to work.”
Randy Gregory is obviously a classic case of playing with house money since the Cowboys didn’t know what to expect with him either, Taco Charlton is improving greatly, and rookie pass rusher Dorance Armstrong has made his presence and talents known as well. Much like the “best five” suggestion for the offensive line a year ago (I know that ended poorly, but you get the idea) it makes sense for the Cowboys to field the best rotation that they can at any given moment.
We’re still a few weeks away from the regular season and even when it begins there’s no telling what the Cowboys will do throughout the rest of the season. For now we know that they are working Tyrone Crawford at defensive tackle some, they’re giving themselves some options. They did it again in practice today.
First-team defense today: LDE-DeMarcus Lawrence, DT-Antwaun Woods, DT-Tyrone Crawford, RDE-Randy Gregory, WLB-Sean Lee, MLB-Jaylon Smith, CB-Anthony Brown, CB-Byron Jones, CB-Chidobe Awuzie, S-Jeff Heath, S-Kavon Frazier— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 23, 2018
This is smart, this is thinking ahead, and it’s hopefully something that pays off in the end.