Defensive end Robert Quinn returns to the active roster. It’s time for the Dallas Cowboys to find a pass rush. Could he be the missing ingredient?
The Dallas Cowboys are 2-0 after beating down two division rivals. Fans are extremely happy with the offensive performance choreographed by new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore … or is it Kevin Moore?
The offense ranks second overall with 484 yards per game and first overall with 7.6 yards per play. The passing game sits third in yards per game with 333 behind Kansas City and Cincinnati and the run game sits sixth overall with 151 yards per game.
The defense is another story. The strength of the 2018 team has shown some troubling spots through two games. The defense ranks 18th allowing just over 360 yards per game.
The run defense has been deceiving. The Cowboys currently rank 11th but the big lead the Cowboys built in both games thanks to the offense is likely why both the Giants and Redskins abandoned the run attempting a combined 34 rushes – the fifth lowest through two weeks.
More indicative and troubling is the 5.8 yards per attempt, helped by Giants running back Saquon Barkley’s 59 yard run on the first rushing play of the season. The Redskins managed only 47 yards on 17 attempts which suppressed the fire for now.
Where the defense has suffered the most is the pass rush. By my estimate, the Cowboys have rushed four or less on 84 percent of passing plays and they are not getting home.
The Giants converted their critical fourth down against a four man rush. Their passing touchdown was from a run formation on the one yard line sneaking out a tight end so it is difficult to judge how many Cowboys were rushing as they were attacking the run threat.
The Redskins converted two of three fourth downs and both of their passing touchdowns against four man rushes. On these critical plays, the Cowboys pass rush did not get the job done as an errant Case Keenum pass was the only way the Dallas defense got off the field with the desired outcome.
The Cowboys rank in the bottom five in sacks with two through the first two games. While a pass rush shouldn’t be judged on sack numbers alone as hurries and quarterback hits help disrupt offensive timing, Dallas is not much better ranking 7th worst in pressure rate through two games.
Fun fact – former Cowboys defensive end Benson Mayowa has three sacks for the Oakland Raiders. It’s time for a change.
The change could be rushing more players per snap but the Cowboys prefer the bend but don’t break model. Certainly, the change will involve the return of defensive end Robert Quinn fresh off the suspended list.
Either way, if Dallas hopes to continue their feel good season, they will need to find ways to make quarterbacks uncomfortable in the pocket. With the likes of Rodgers, Brady, Wentz and Goff on the schedule, the Cowboys can’t afford to let these quarterbacks sit back and pick them apart.