DALLAS - It didn't take long for DeMarcus Lawrence to make his presence felt Sunday night against the New York Giants.
First, it was a swim move. Next came a bull rush, followed by a stunt that resulted in Eli Manning being dropped for a loss.
Two sacks and 60 minutes later, Lawrence had surpassed his sack total from the 2016 season. He harassed, pressured and made Manning uncomfortable all game, and flashed the potential many Cowboys fans hoped for when Lawrence was drafted in 2014.
Now in the final year of his rookie contract, Lawrence's message against New York was clear — he's ready for a new deal.
And if he keeps racking up sacks, Jerry Jones will be hard-pressed to tell Lawrence no.
After battling injuries the first three seasons of his career, Lawrence dropped weight this past offseason and is primed to be a force off the edge. On a relatively young defensive line ravaged with injuries and suspensions, it won't be hard to notice Lawrence, who has all the physical attributes to be a perennial playmaker.
At 6'3, 260 pounds, Lawrence can beat you with size and speed, something the Cowboys haven't had in awhile. The fact is, Dallas has lacked an elite pass rusher since DeMarcus Ware left town in 2013. The Cowboys brought in Greg Hardy in 2015 to fill that role, which as we all know, failed miserably.
Lawrence can change Dallas' fortunes up front.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli loves to play Cover 1 with a single high safety over the top. This means defensive backs are usually in man-to-man coverage on the outside with the linebackers either matched up with tight ends, running backs or in zone over the middle.
As you may have noticed, Dallas doesn't particularly blitz that often. Instead, they rely on a four-man pass rush to apply pressure while the linebackers and defensive backs lock down receivers or make tackles at the line of scrimmage.
Unfortunately, this scheme has not been totally effective the last few years due to the lack of depth and talent on the Cowboys' defensive line. It’s been especially noticeable in the passing game. Dallas ranked 26th in the NFL last season in passing yards per game, and it wasn’t because their secondary was awful.
It all started up front.
Not surprisingly, both of the Cowboys’ playoff exits the past three seasons have stemmed from an inability to pressure the quarterback. Granted, both of those games were against future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers, but even so, when they've needed to get to the quarterback, they haven't been able to.
In the playoffs, your pass rush, or lack thereof, can send you home. Marinelli's defense needs someone who can disrupt opposing offenses, and Lawrence fits the bill perfectly.
His performance against New York proved it.
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