The Dallas Cowboys have struggled all season long on the defensive side of the ball. They currently rank 28th in total yards and 32nd in rushing yards (170.9) and points (33.3) allowed. With that being said, one of the bright spots, especially over the last month, has been Pro Bowl defensive end, DeMarcus Lawrence.
During the first four games of the season, Lawrence didn’t register a single sack. In the four games since, however, he’s managed to rack up three. Also, he has his only four quarterback hits and two forced fumbles over that span.
This latest stretch has helped Lawrence become the third-highest graded edge defender in the NFL for 2020, trailing only T.J. Watt and Kahlil Mack.
🥇 T.J. Watt
🥈 Khalil Mack
🥉 Demarcus Lawrence
PFF's highest-graded EDGE defenders through Wk 8 🏆 pic.twitter.com/3FoeIkWj0Z
— PFF (@PFF) November 3, 2020
The biggest reason for the elevation in Lawrence’s play is simply that he’s healthier after a nagging knee injury he suffered in Week 2 vs the Atlanta Falcons. When speaking to the media this week, Lawrence had this to say when asked about how he felt after taking on the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday.
“Yeah, I feel like my knee is progressing real well, and when you’re out there on the field you’re trying to give it your all. I think people overlook it or they just don’t care. So yeah I feel like this is one of my best games I’ve had this year.”
The numbers, and film, back up Lawrence’s claim. He had six tackles (three for loss), a sack, two quarterback hits, and a forced fumble.
— John Owning (@JohnOwning) November 2, 2020
The Cowboy’s defensive performance in Philadelphia was their best of the season. They sacked Carson Wentz four times and forced four turnovers, although they lost 23-9.
Lawrence sees the progression from where this unit was earlier in the season.
“I feel like we’re taking some big huge steps, just understanding what coach wants out of us, understanding our plays and understanding each other, and being able to bond a little more with each other and get after it. I feel like it’s coming together, molding together real well and getting better each and every day.”
When asked if he thinks the Cowboys defense can eventually compete with the better units of its kind Lawrence responded confidently.
“Oh yeah, most definitely. You know, just with the guys that we have on our defense makes me believe whole-heartedly that I know we can be one of the best. Coming into the season I had high hopes for that, but you really don’t know the type of situation you’re in until you’re in it. We’re in it now, so we know what type of situation we’re in, and what we have to do is keep our head down and keep digging. We’ll see the light one day.”
DeMarcus Lawrence and the rest of the Cowboys defense face another big test this Sunday in Arlington when the 7-0 Pittsburgh Steelers come to town. They’ll need to repeat something similar to their performance in Philadelphia if they want a chance at an upset.
- NFC East2020.11.27Dallas Cowboys: Zack Martin to miss 3-4 weeks with calf strain
- NFC East2020.11.20Ezekiel Elliott: Jerry Jones says he is Cowboys best player
- NFC East2020.11.13Dallas Cowboys: Trevon Diggs ranked amongst top rookies
- NFC2020.11.07DeMarcus Lawrence starts to dominate, sees Cowboys defense improving