It’s starting to become a regular thing for the Dallas Cowboys. The offense does the bare minimum, the defense plays beyond our wildest expectations, Brett Maher knocks down a few field goals, and the Cowboys sneak out with a win. Rinse and repeat.
It’s a recipe that’s working, at least for now. The defense has been so incredible that it doesn’t take many points to win games. In fact, the defense and special teams will even give you a little help if needed. The Cowboys' defense is currently ranked third-best in points allowed with a measly 72 points surrendered to this point. There are many reasons for their success, but today we’re going to take a look at the real stars of this group - the defensive line. Here are some things that stood out after further review.
The fourth-round star
The Cowboys' war room was super-excited when a Kansas Jayhawk edge rusher was still available on Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft. While Dorance Armstong has been mostly quiet throughout his career, the presence of Dan Quinn appears to have awakened him. He had a career season last year and is looking to blow that away this year.
Dorance Armstrong is a "do-it-all" player. He can get sacks, he can disrupt the run, and he can block anything that's kicked. The guy is such a valuable member of this Cowboys' defense. pic.twitter.com/RY9Ux6KDid— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) October 10, 2022
The unstoppable Tank
For the second-straight season, DeMarcus Lawrence has scored a defensive touchdown. It’s becoming harder and harder to not notice him as he’s made a career of doing the dirty work in the trenches. Lawrence gets criticized for not having huge sack numbers, but whenever you put on the film, he can always be seen creating a ruckus. You know about the splashy stuff, but take a look at the little stuff.
And it's so easy to forget how disruptive DeMarcus Lawrence is. Yes, he scooped up a fumble for a defensive touchdown, but he does so much more. The guy redirects the run more than you know and is always in your face. pic.twitter.com/h0560824ev— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) October 10, 2022
Micah Parsons got off to a hot start with a two-sack game in each of his first two contests this season. Opposing offenses started to devote more attention his way and while his sacks disappeared, the impact it had on the rest of his teammates was quite fulfilling. It looked as if the Rams were also going to force other defenders to beat them and when we heard Parsons was dealing with a groin injury and would only see pass-rushing reps, it didn’t look like the second-year edge rusher would be able to make much of a splash.
Wrong. Parsons just kept feasting as he once again had a two-sack performance, both coming in the second half.
This just in: Micah Parsons is good at football pic.twitter.com/Xjom7HjKgG— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) October 10, 2022
Parsons isn’t the only second-year player showing that he’s even better as Osa Odighizuwa is starting to string together more and more wins along the defensive line. Diggy’s high motor was seen on multiple plays as he got in on some clean-up action after his teammates chased Matthew Stafford out of the pocket, but his closing speed and nice length have made him a big player on this defensive line attack as well.
Osa Odighizuwa had a nice game. His relentless pursuit was on display against the Rams in this two-play sequence. pic.twitter.com/HOyHhXxnQX— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) October 10, 2022
There is no escape
One thing that was on display repeatedly in ths game was how one defensive player would benefit from the great play of another. This defense is so swarmy (is that a word?) that if their opponent somehow manages to get away from one guy, another defender will be arriving shortly. The success of this Cowboys' defense is attributed to their team effort.
The Cowboys have been criticized for some of their second-round gamble picks as they go after raw upside guys rather than more proven, ready-to-to players. Trysten Hill had a quiet start to his career, but he has been all over the place this season. And this year’s second-rounder Sam Williams is already showing his playmaking ability way sooner than expected. It’s amazing what you can get under Dan Quinn’s tutelage.
It was an all-around effort across the board. Check out this two-play sequence as Sam Williams and Trysten Hill just blow up the Rams' running game. pic.twitter.com/rj8oCr6Y5h— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) October 10, 2022
Leaving points on the table
The offense didn’t have a great game as their 239 yards was their lowest output of the season. And that was despite putting up 163 of that on the ground.
It was a grind for sure, but the offense could’ve added at least a couple more Brett Maher field goals if their star receivers didn’t have slippery hands. On a couple of key third down plays, Cooper Rush delivered a perfectly placed ball only to have the receive fail to haul in it. When you’re playing with a backup QB and points are scarce, you really need to have these.
It's moot now, but these drops could've been costly. With a backup QB, there isn't a lot of room for error. If caught, the Cowboys are getting at least a FG out of this and would've had their highest-scoring total of the season. pic.twitter.com/zqIyAho0XU— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) October 10, 2022