The Dallas Cowboys allowed Buffalo Bills RB James Cook to rush for 179 yards on just 25 carries on Sunday, an average of 7.2 yards per carry. While the team missed DT Jonathan Hankins in the game, many of Cook’s big gains came on the outside.
A large reason for Cook’s success running the ball was due to poor tackling by the Cowboys defenders. The team missed 17 tackles throughout the 31-10 defeat. To put that into perspective, the most tackles missed by the Cowboys defense in the 2020 season under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was 13.
It won’t get any easier for the Cowboys this upcoming weekend when they face the 10-4 Miami Dolphins. RB Raheem Mostert is currently third in the NFL in rushing yards with 966. While he is known around the league for his elite speed, his backup may pose an even larger threat at breaking a big run. Rookie RB Devon Achane has quickly made his name in the league, showing off his speed and quickness, providing the Dolphins one of the most electric backfields across the league.
While the Cowboys surely hope to have Hankins back soon to provide relief in defending the run, he won’t solve big gains on the outside of the offensive line. Linebackers Markquese Bell and Damone Clark have shown promise and talent this year, but it would be wise of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to provide them some help. Fortunately for the Cowboys, their answer is already on their team.
When Micah Parsons was drafted by the Cowboys in the 2021 draft, the team expected him to come in and play a majority of his snaps at the linebacker position. However, Parsons quickly made a name for himself with his ability to rush the passer off the edge, ultimately leading to him basically becoming a full-time edge rusher this season. While Parsons’ edge-rushing ability is his best trait, he is also the Cowboys best linebacker. He has elite range and sideline-to-sideline speed that allows him to matchup well with opposing backs.
It would be wise to have Parsons be lined up as both an off-the-ball linebacker as well as on the edge throughout different parts of the game. It is important not to completely take away Parsons’ best trait as an edge rusher, however, Josh Allen only attempted 15 passes throughout the game on Sunday due to their success running the football. Having Parsons be limited to just an edge rusher takes him away from making plays in the running game. It would be wise to have him lined up as a linebacker on early downs and move him back to the line in passing situations.