After some time off to get healthy and recharge, the Dallas Cowboy return from their bye week looking to pad their lead in the NFC East. This week they are facing off against the 3-3 Minnesota Vikings, who despite their average record, is a very dangerous team that has the weapons on offense and defense to upset the Cowboys. The problem for the Vikings is that their offensive line, particularly in the middle, have been vulnerable and are allowing pressure on quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins is doing a good job of averting sacks, but the pressure stats are there. So in week eight the under the radar player for the Cowboys has to be Osa Odighizuwa.
Since week one, Odighizuwa’s playing time has been increasing from week to week, partly due to injuries along the defensive line, but the other reason being his ability to affect the pocket. According to ProFootballReference, last week Odighizuwa was on the field for 40 snaps, that’s 74% of the defensive plays called by the Cowboys and for good reason, his 19 quarterback pressures, eight quarterback hits, three tackles for loss, and three sacks on the season have proven to be very important to this Cowboys defensive revival. His speed to power transition is something that he can use to exploit the Vikings lackluster interior offensive line on passing downs.
They may be solid when it comes to run blocking, but in the passing game they leave a lot to be desired and that’s plays right into the hands of Odighizuwa. Take a look at these numbers when you compare them.
Looking at the information above you can see that these Vikings offensive linemen allow pressure to get into the face of Cousins across the board. Don’t let the pass efficiency numbers fool you, the more important numbers here are they pressures given up which between the three is 39 total. The speed of Odighizuwa should be able to create enough of a disruption in the pocket causing these offensive linemen to hold him. or risk him wreaking havoc in the passing and running games. The other plus of Odighizuwa is that if he can start to attract more of their attention, it will give the Cowboys linebackers and defensive ends an easier time collapsing the pocket on Cousin. His pocket time has continued to shrink in Minnesota, and is now at 2.3 seconds according to ProFootballReference.
The moral of this story is that Odighizuwa has an opportunity to be a huge reason the Cowboys are able to pick up the victory this week. All he needs to do is continue tossing around offensive linemen like he’s been doing this season.