Dallas Cowboys, Def, Cowboys
|Def - #20||DAL||Active|
2015 Outlook:Last updated on Jun-21-2015 by Shawn Childs
The Cowboys will face two tough rushing attacks -- the Seahawks and Jets -- and one poor ground game -- the Falcons. The Bills' rushing offense should be much improved with LeSean McCoy around. Dallas' pass defense will be severely tested by 10 matchups versus above-average passing games. The Seahawks and Jets are their only opponents with exceptionally weak aerial attacks.
The Cowboys ranked eighth against the run last year. However, they still allowed 18 rushing TDs and their opponents posted an average of only 24.5 rushing attempts per game, sixth-fewest in the league.
Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford was the Cowboys' best interior pass rusher (three sacks, 12 QB hits and 20 QB hurries) while defensive end Jeremy Mincey led the team with six sacks. Both players weren't great against the run. Mincey had surgery in January to repair an elbow issue. DT Nick Hayden has been a disaster against the run over the past two years and hasn't recorded a sack since 2010. DE Demarcus Lawrence was only a part-time player in his rookie season. He missed the first eight games due to a broken foot. He should become a better pass rusher as he gains experience.
The Cowboys will have the services of LB Sean Lee after he missed last season with a torn left ACL. He is a solid run defender with value in pass coverage, but he rarely adds value to the pass rush. LB Rolando McClain is a former first-round pick with upside against the run who also plays well in coverage. Jasper Brinkley will upgrade Dallas' run defense, but he will be on the bench for passing downs. Fourth-round rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens was huge liability in pass coverage and added no value to the pass rush. He graded just above the league average against the run.
CB Orlando Scandrick has played well over the past two seasons in pass coverage. Last year, he allowed 64 catches on 85 targets but for just 655 yards and no touchdowns. CB Brandon Carr was the weak link in the Cowboys' pass defense (60 catches on 100 targets for 1,007 yards and six TDs. There is a good chance he loses his starting job to rookie Byron Jones, who has upside in coverage. Safety Barry Church is no more than a league-average player in all areas of the game. Second-year safety J.J. Wilcox was a liability in both run defense and pass coverage.
The Cowboys amassed only 28 sacks. They allowed the seventh-most passing yards (4,031) along with 22 passing TDs and grabbed 18 interceptions.
This defense exceeded expectations in 2014, but there is plenty of risk at each level. The lack of pressure on the QB will lead to the secondary being exposed. The Cowboys have a chance to be league average against the run, but their D-line will allow too many short-yardage scores. This defense has no sustainable Fantasy value for this season.
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