By Chad Lesher
Coming into the year, the Cowboys had many things to address on the defensive side of the ball. Claiborne, Church, Wilcox and Carr are all gone from the secondary. Terrell McClain and Jack Crawford are gone off the defensive line. So, when the Cowboys went into the draft and into free agency, they knew they had holes to fill. For the most part, they filled the roster spots as they had plenty of players coming to Frisco.
Free agency didn’t bring much fanfare but we did secure Paea, Moore, Blanton, Durant and Carroll to name a few. The draft brought in more: Taco, Cheeto, Woods, and Lewis are really nice young guys with big upside. The Cowboys are also relying on Jaylon Smith and Charles Tapper to overcome injury issues to contribute in 2017. OK, well it’s not so bad, right? Every team has to retool and our defense needed more playmakers. I agree but here is the problem with that:
So, if I’m Rod Marinelli, I can’t get any sleep at night. How do I put a quality defense on the field for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations?
First, how do you get your opening day roster set with so many variables up in the air? All the assistant coaches are going to lobby for an additional spot or two on the 53-man roster. Who is lucky enough to get an extra guy in their group? Is the play of Cooper Rush taking a spot from the defense? What about Rico Gathers? An extra wide receiver? Marinelli is going to have to fight in the meeting room to get the bodies he needs. After the suspensions, who gets cut to make room for Irving and Moore to come back?
Second, how do you get any continuity with a secondary that is not playing together. Your secondary will take the field on 9/10 with very little or no quality time together on the field. Have you seen the wide receivers the Giants are bringing to town?
Third, how will you get a pass rush? Who are your starting defensive lineman in the first few games? People are putting a lot on Demarcus Lawrence to be a game changer but what has he consistently shown to believe it will happen? Do you really think Taco will come in as rookie and get double digit sacks? We see flashes from some of these guys but we aren’t putting a lot of fear in opposing offensive coordinators.
Cowboys management has put a ton on the plate of Marinelli. They are big believers in Rod and they should because he’s a great motivator, the players love him and he has done some good things without much talent. The preseason has scared me a ton. Not because the defense has been bad. They have been ok. But, when the calendar flips to September, everything changes and this is a squad that will be still trying to mesh. With an NFC East title as the first squad goal, we don’t have much time to waste. No Zeke means the defense may be on the field more and we can’t stack up too many losses before he returns. Good speed, Rod. I’m praying for ya.
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