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Cowboys’ plan for success in 2019 all starts in the trenches on offense & defense

The Cowboys built their roster to win in the trenches, will it show true in 2019?

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys have made it clear that their plan for offseason roster-building starts in the trenches. Last season, attrition hit the Cowboys offensive line hard with 60 sacks allowed being the result of poor communication between line replacements and the quarterback. If you were pinpointing reasons as to why the Cowboys were ousted so easily in the divisional round, look no further than how the Rams walloped an outmatched run defense to the tune of almost 300 rushing yards.

Despite many differences of opinion about the Cowboys roster needs, the majority of the resources were spent fortifying both the offensive and defensive lines:

Trans. Date Cowboys Transactions Details
Mar. 13 re-sign OT Cameron Fleming 2-years, $7.5M
Mar. 14 sign DT Christian Covington (HOU) 1-year, $2.5M
Mar. 18 sign DL Kerry Hyder (DET) 1-year, $1M
Mar. 28 DE Robert Quinn acquired via trade (MIA) 1-year, $8M
Apr. 5 extend DE DeMarcus Lawrence 5-year, 105M
Apr. 26 DT Trysten Hill, UCF via Draft Pick 58
Apr. 26 OL Connor McGovern, Penn St. via Draft Pick 90
Apr. 27 DE Joe Jackson, MIA via Draft Pick 165
Apr. 27 DE Jalen Jelks, ORE via Draft Pick 241
Apr. 27 - May 1 DT Daniel Wise, DT Ricky Walker, OT Mitch Hyatt, OT Brandon Knight, OG Larry Allen, OT Derrick Puni UDFA Signees

If you think about the philosophies of how this team wins games offensively, it makes sense to continue drafting young talented offensive linemen. Connor McGovern is the latest addition to the offensive line and if you happen to be as successful as the Cowboys in drafting studs in that area, why not? Sure, McGovern may not be a ‘need’ but then again, the landscape of good offensive linemen in the NFL is bleak for most. The Cowboys are doing everything in their power to make sure that they remain as one of the best lines in all of football.

Considering how starved the NFL is for quality linemen, the Cowboys could potentially lose right tackle La’el Collins to a much bigger contract in 2020. The Cowboys are prioritizing offensive line as they always do and hoping to be covered should any unforeseen circumstances arise. By drafting Connor Williams in 2018, followed by Connor McGovern this year, they have done a nice job of protecting the integrity of their strongest unit.

The defensive line was in need of some attention with the suspension of Randy Gregory and the mess with David Irving. The Cowboys desperately needed more playmaking ability opposite DeMarcus Lawrence. A one-year rental in the form of Robert Quinn will do a lot to help generate more pass rush. The Cowboys have a solid rotation building again and it could even be elite if they get what they’re hoping to out of rookie Trysten Hill. Despite the attitude concerns, Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard both made their pleas to get Hill in the second round. That alone means a lot for the rookie as Marinelli is not one to go to bat very often on a player and will coach whoever is in front of him.

Trysten Hill has something the Cowboys don’t have in the middle of their defense with his ability to fire off the ball. He’s got the lower-half agility and explosiveness as an under tackle, which is the most important position in Marinelli’s 4-3 alignment. Maliek Collins and Antwaun Woods pull their own weight on the line but neither have the explosive potential that Trysten Hill has. Rod Marinelli has always talked about having his rush come in waves with an emphasis on relentless effort and attacking the pocket. By having an elite rusher on the left side, a former Pro Bowler on the right, and possibly a prototypical 3-tech in the middle, the Cowboys will present a ferocious defensive front.

The Cowboys plan for a deeper run in the playoffs is to continue to build depth in the trenches. Dallas wins on offense by running the football and allowing their quarterback to make plays with his arm and legs. Investing more resources on the offensive line will help them continue that plan. On the flip side, they must generate more pass rush and disrupt the opposing offense. By adding talented pass rushers and fortifying the run defense, the Cowboys hope that their back end won’t have to cover as long and can make a few more plays on the ball. Today’s NFL is all about protection and pass rush, two areas that the Cowboys committed heavily to addressing this offseason.

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