Previously we broke down the offense for this week’s upcoming game for the Dallas Cowboys, now we dive back into the position battleground, this time looking at how the defensive positions and special teams stack up against each other.
Let’s start off by saying the name Aaron Donald. If he’s not on your team, it’s a name that will send shivers through you. A complete technician with his hands, strength beyond measure, and between the ears he understands the game of setting up offensive lineman with a fantastic pass rush plan, which he delivers on nearly every drive. At the defensive tackle position he ranks first in pressures (don’t think anyone would be surprised by that fact), and he’s fifth in tackles and tackles for loss. Add to the mix veteran DT A’Shawn Robinson who has even more tackles than Donald, and he does a good job complementing Donald in the run game. With the way Tyler Biadasz plays so hot and cold, and the trouble at the left guard position, this could be a problematic point of attack for the Cowboys offensive line. As for a pass rush outside of Donald, watch for Leonard Floyd and Justin Hollins roaming on either side. They aren’t as a big of a threat as the inside guys for the LA Rams, but can be a nuisance if left unchecked.
On the Cowboys side, Osa Odighizuwa isn’t being talked about enough. His efforts won’t show up on a stat sheet, but his ability to take on double-team blocks and still find a way to get into position is phenomenal. Seeing a sack from the 3-tech position with Neville Gallimore is exciting to see, and hopefully we get some more from him. With the focus so much on Micah Parsons, players like Demarcus Lawrence (who is bossing it on run defense), Dante Fowler and Dorance Armstrong are all getting their share of reduced attention from the opposing offensive line. A huge bonus for the Cowboys defensive line is how bad the Rams offensive line currently is in both run and pass blocking. And with a lack of weapons for Matt Stafford outside of Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee, getting to the quarterback as he struggles to find open receivers gives the Cowboys pass rush more time to force pressure.
But as the way this position breakdown started by saying Aaron Donald, that’s a chilling way to end it.
Wagner/Jones vs Parsons/LVE/Barr
Bobby Wagner is a familiar name for Cowboys fans. A lot of fans wanted to see him here at Dallas. And it’s fair to be excited about the elite linebacker as this season he resides in the top twenty for tackles among linebackers, while also notching two sacks on the season to his stat line. Ernest Jones is a fine run defender and does his part in pass coverage.
For the Cowboys, we mentioned before about the opposing teams focusing so much on Parsons, just his presence is enough for offensive coordinators to take extra resources in slowing him. Leighton Vander Esch leads the team in tackles outside of defensive backs, and he looks to be getting to the ball carrier a little quicker. Anthony Barr has been doing his job well, although with Jayron Kearse returning from injury his role maybe reduced. With Damone Clark returning to practice, the linebacker room in Dallas has a big pointy up arrow right now.
For a game of checking off to find a winner here, Parsons beats out Wagner, LVE beats out Jones.
Try to find a Cowboys fan not impressed by the safety position right now. This is easily the most remarkable position talent boom on the roster this year. Without exaggeration, the safety position for the Cowboys may be the best we’ve seen in the last twenty years. Adding to the Cowboys defensive backfield power, Trevon Diggs had yet another elite display of cornerback coverage, allowing only six yards against Terry McLaurin. We saw rookie DaRon Bland coming to the field and having an electrifying debut, and some good news on Jayron Kearse, as he comes back to practice fully this week, only helps to enhance the defensive rotation even further. Then let’s throw in depth to the conversation and add the names of Israel Mukuamu, Markquese Bell, Kelvin Joseph and hopefully Jourdan Lewis comes back from his groin injury soon. How can any Cowboys fan not be excited by this defensive back talent pool?
For L.A. we all know about the conversation about Jalen Ramsey. Ramsey’s usage will be completely dependant on how effective the Cowboys receivers play, from there the game plan for him becomes more conclusive. The fact most people have Ramsey ranked higher than Diggs is frustrating, and maybe perhaps this week if Diggs displays a better game than Ramsey, who knows what the post game narrative becomes. They have a list of questionables on the practice report which need to be watched carefully. Starting safety Taylor Rapp, cornerback David Long, strong safety Jordan Fuller, and even their slot corner Cobie Durant are all injured. But even the Rams defensive backs are not playing as brilliantly as their Dallas counterparts.
With consistent and strong levels of play from the Dallas backs, and also due to questions for the Rams health coming into game day, this position battle goes to Dallas.
The Cowboys got hit this week with the bad news of long snapper Jake McQuaide getting injured for the season. How that will affect kicker Brett Maher, who was perfect on field goal attempts last week, is worrying.
Over at L.A., Matt Gay hasn’t missed any kicks, both in field goals and extra points.
For kick returns, Cowboys specialist KaVontae Turpin averages better returns, but Rams do have a return of 53 yards from Brandon Powell.
This battle has a question mark for the Cowboys, so give this to the Rams.
Which team has the better defense?
This poll is closed