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Mailbag: A Big Difference At Defensive Tackle?


I was recently surprised to read that Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy are only 40 pounds heavier combined than the starting defensive tackles last year. With that said, why do you feel the defensive line will be that much stronger on the inside this year? — GARY BIRTWELL / SAN DIEGO, CA

Rob: Well, those 40 extra pounds are mostly Dontari Poe. At 346, Poe is a much heavier nose tackle than the Cowboys had under former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. He's definitely going to take up more space against the run. McCoy has actually made an effort to drop some weight, but still he's a proven physical player up front. Carolina struggled against the run last year with Poe and McCoy in the starting lineup, but there were other reasons for that. The Panthers tried a scheme change, they played linebacker Luke Kuechly at a different spot, and overall it didn't work. In a year that has been completely virtual to date, the Cowboys were smart to add veteran players like Poe and McCoy who know how to prepare and perform at this level.

Jonny: That is an interesting number, but I'm pretty bullish on Poe and McCoy as additions. On one hand, I would say that 20-30 additional pounds, if you know how to throw it around actually can be a lot. I also think that, if healthy and free to play to their strengths, they're just better players than the Cowboys have had at the position recently. Poe is powerful. McCoy certainly has size at the position, but he doesn't sacrifice quickness.

A huge reason for the titles in the '90s was the fullback play of Daryl Johnston, who was also a very reliable receiver coming out of the backfield. New coach Mike McCarthy successfully utilized the fullback position during his tenure in Green Bay. Do you think we may see that addition to his offense in Dallas? — DALLAS MORRISSEY / BATTLE GROUND, WA

Rob: In Green Bay, McCarthy did utilize John Kuhn some in the passing game. Kuhn had four seasons with catch totals in the teens, but he only averaged nine per season over nine years. There are just so many options on the Cowboys' offense. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore likes Jamize Olawale's versatility, but Ezekiel Elliott is very underrated as a receiver. To me, if you're trying to get a running back more involved in the passing game, I'd start with Zeke. Tony Pollard can help there, too.

Jonny: It's certainly possible. Perhaps it will be utilized, but I wouldn't expect a large percentage of snaps to include a fullback. The Cowboys just have so many skill position guys that can make plays. Having a fullback on the field means taking one of Zeke, Cooper, Gallup, Lamb, or Jarwin off the field. There are only so many scenarios where I feel like that's worth the trade off.

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