Cowboys’ CeeDee Lamb nearing Michael Irvin’s single-season catches record, ready to battle CB Jalen Ramsey - Garrett Podell, CBS Sports
CeeDee Lamb is eager to face one of the NFL's top cornerbacks.
Now the current No. 88, 24-year-old Pro Bowl wide out CeeDee Lamb, has a chance to record a signature milestone of his own in the jersey. He needs nine catches on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins in Week 16 to break Irvin’s team single-season catches record of 111 set back in 1995. He came close to breaking the record in 2022 with 107 catches, but with 103 in 2023 with three games to go, Irvin should justifiably start sweating. Lamb is the first player in franchise history to record 100 or more catches in consecutive seasons. His total of 210 since 2022 is the second-most in the NFL behind a player who’ll be on the other sideline Sunday, Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill and his 216 receptions.
A nine-catch game isn’t out of the question for Lamb. He has five such games this season, tied with Hill for the most in 2023.
“It’s not necessarily really on my mind,” Lamb said Thursday when asked about the record. “It’s good to be reminded of those things, showing all the hard work that I’ve done. I’m not really too focused on that to be honest.”
His focus for Week 16 resides with his upcoming battle against Dolphins cornerback Jalen Ramsey, a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time First-Team All-Pro who Miami acquired from the Rams in a trade this past offseason.
“Jalen has been doing it for awhile,” Lamb said. “He has had plenty of success. Coming in, it should be very exciting. I’m looking forward to it. We should get a lot of reps together.”
Cowboys vs. Dolphins analysis: Huge road test (Part 2), run defense woes, predictions - Jon Machota and Saad Yousuf, The Athletic
Dallas needs to be a lot better against the run than they have been lately.
Machota: It’s pretty simple. They can start by tackling better. They were uncharacteristically poor at Buffalo, missing 12 tackles, much like Week 5 at San Francisco. It doesn’t appear they will have defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (high ankle sprain) back Sunday. That’s a big loss for their run defense. There’s a better chance for a return of starting safety Malik Hooker (ankle). If they miss tackles like they did at Buffalo, they’ll get blown out again. But I imagine they’ll have a bounce-back performance in that area. They’ve never been a great run defense, but they’re much better than they showed Sunday.
Yousuf: They have to be more disciplined. Tackling has been a big talking point this week — understandably so — but the Dolphins have a different running game than the Bills. Miami is more prone to stretch the defensive front and beat you with speed more than power up the middle, though they are capable of that, too, and the Bills did just provide the blueprint. The issue for Dallas adjusting is that the solution isn’t as simple as just loading up the box because of the Dolphins’ outside receiving threats. That’s why it begins with discipline and ends with sure tackling.
The Cowboys could use some insurance at defensive tackle.
It’s hard to win football games at any level without winning the battle in the trenches. The Dallas Cowboys were reminded of that in Week 15 when the Buffalo Bills stampeded their way to a 31-10 rout of America’s Team. Dallas surrendered 266 rushing yards in the loss, calling into question its standing against the best teams in the NFC—and their run-heavy offenses.
The Cowboys were without nose tackle Johnathan Hankins on Sunday, and the defensive line suffered for it. The entire defense was bullied for four quarters. With the playoff-bound Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions around the corner, fixing the run defense is imperative.
With Hankings dealing with a high ankle sprain and rookie Mazi Smith falling short of outside expectations, is it worth scouring the league’s lost and found?
Micah Parsons is due for another monster game.
Micah Parsons Will Record 3 Sacks
This prediction is bold because Tua Tagovailoa has one of the quickest releases in the NFL at 2.3 seconds from snap to throw.
The Dolphins’ offense is a mash of crossing routes and screen concepts that lull the defense to sleep before hitting a big play over the top.
According to Cowboys CB Stephon Gilmore, the key to slowing the Dolphins’ passing attack is to play close to the line of scrimmage and disrupt the routes.
Hill and Waddle won’t be given those easy quick screens and Tua will be forced to hold the ball longer than he is accustomed to.
The defensive backs slowing routes on the outside will allow Dallas’ defensive freak Micah Parsons to record his first three-sack game of his career.
Those three sacks will also push him over the 15.0 sack threshold for the first time in his career, and insert him back near the top of the NFL Defensive Player of the Year discussion.
Mazi Smith is getting some run lately.
The absence of starting defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins against the Buffalo Bills shined a spotlight on first-round rookie Mazi Smith who filled in and played a season-high 36 snaps.
Even though his responsibilities in the A-gap were not the biggest concerns in the run game against the Bills, James Cook ran for 179 yards on his way to helping power Buffalo to 266 yards on the ground as a team.
“I think there’s definitely plays he can learn from as far as pad level,” head coach Mike McCarthy said about Smith. “But I thought he did a good job fighting, staying in his gap, fitting his gap. It starts with attacking the line of scrimmage, staying square, getting in your gap and then obviously the tackling was probably our biggest issue on run defense.”
When asked on Tuesday about his continuing development, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said that he is pleased with his development and the trajectory he is on.
“Mazi has shown us everything that we’ve wanted when we took him,” Jones said. “He does need to continue his development. Mazi went in there and got some good snaps [against Buffalo]. We’re gonna need Mazi and we’re gonna need him in the middle there. They’re gonna come at us in the run game in the future.”
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