The Dallas Cowboys defense knows it simply has to be better and a big part of that equation is going to be how David Irving can stand up against the run as a defensive tackle.
The Cowboys lost their best run-stuffing defensive tackle when Stephen Paea retired last week and Irving, who has spent most of his time with the Cowboys as a defensive end, is going to be playing a lot of tackle. We know that Irving can impact the game from that position as a pass-rusher, but the Cowboys will need him to hold up against the run to turn their defense around.
Irving returned from suspension last week and recorded a pair of sacks, supplementing DeMarcus Lawrence in the pass rush and giving defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli the front four that can get pressure on their own that he desires. However, the Cowboys were gashed for 160 yards rushing against the Green Bay Packers, who were without their top tailback, Ty Montgomery.
Sean Lee’s return at linebacker should help them immensely against the run, but Irving has to occupy to keep Lee free and allow him to scrape along the line of scrimmage. That’s a lot to ask for a 273-pounder, but it’s an absolute necessity if he’s going to be playing inside.
So as Dallas look to get back on track Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, be sure to keep an eye turned towards Irving up front. How he handles himself might determine whether the Cowboys decide to look for help to stop the run at defensive tackle.
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