The Defensive Line Leads Dallas Cowboys Into Jacksonville

Dallas Defensive Line

The defensive line will lead the Dallas Cowboys against the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday. Dallas visits the Jaguars one week after stealing a road victory against the hapless Houston Texans. The Cowboys and their vaunted defense will be looking to bounce back in Duval County and close the gap behind the Philadelphia Eagles.

READ MORE: How the Cowboys Can Replace Terence Steele

Dallas Will Lean on the Defensive Line In Week 15

Subpar Defense Against the Texans

Last week the Cowboys stole a win on the road against the one-win Texans. The defense was less than stellar last week with only one hit on the quarterback and no sacks. The Texans ran a large amount of run-pass option plays, forcing would-be pass-rushers to honor the quarterback run game. This game plan had the Cowboys on their heels at the point of attack. The defensive line could face a similar game plan this week against the mobile quarterback Trevor Lawrence and budding star running back Travis Etienne.

The Offense Depends on the Defense

The Dallas Cowboys offense has had some struggles this season. Last week against Houston, Dak Prescott threw two interceptions—the second deep in their own terrorist. The offense has unfortunately had some sluggish starts, but the defense has been good enough to keep them in games until the offense starts to get rolling.

Dallas will be without some of their stars this weekend and the rest of the season following key injuries. The Cowboys lost Terence Steele to an ACL tear last week against the Texans, and they are still awaiting the season debut from Tyron Smith. With offensive line questions, the Cowboys could become more conservative and lean more heavily onto their defense to avoid a shootout.

Offensive Firepower in Jacksonville

The Jaguars are coming off a big win against divisional rival Tennessee Titans. Lawrence was excellent in this game going 30/42 and passing for 368 yards and three touchdowns. The Jaguars quarterback has passed for over 300 yards in two of the last three games for a combined seven touchdowns. Travis Etienne Jr. has struggled over the last several games following a minor foot injury but still has racked up over 800 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Both Lawrence and Etienne Jr. are capable of shredding the Dallas defense.

Through the air, Evan Engram burst onto the scene with a massive stat line against the
Titans. Engram caught 11 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Engram is a player who could have a big day against the Dallas linebackers in coverage. The leading wide receiver for the Jaguars is Christian Kirk. Kirk has tallied 874 yards and seven touchdowns as the primary pass catcher. If Dallas is to win in Jacksonville they will have to apply pressure against Lawrence, control Etienne Jr. on the ground, and disrupt these talented pass-catchers. If the defense shows up with the same energy as last week, the Cowboys could be in for a demoralizing upset.

Quarterback Pressure is the Key for Dallas

Dallas has been tremendous against opposing quarterbacks all season. The combination of Micah Parsons, Demarcus Lawrence, Neville Gallimore, and Osa Odighizuwa has haunted signal callers with regular hits, pressures, and sacks. This group has also been pivotal in controlling the run game, filling gaps, and controlling the line of scrimmage.

The defensive line sets the tone for the entire defense. Trevon Diggs and company simply don’t have to cover for as long when Parsons and his crew are attacking the pocket. The defense has combined for 48 sacks and 11 interceptions so far this season. If Dallas wants to secure a win against Jacksonville, it will have to start with Parsons, Lawrence, Gallimore, and the rest of the defensive line.