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Mailbag: Adding Pass Rushers? Switch to 3-4?


With the lack of game experience behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, do you think that there is a real chance that Dallas looks outside the organization for pass rush help? — MARK SOMMA / GAINESVILLE, VA

Nick: Not at the moment. This is a good chance for the guys on the roster to prove themselves. Basham and Armstrong will get plenty of reps but don't forget about Bradlee Anae, Azur Kamara and maybe Chauncey Golston. It's just not as easy to get players in here with certain COVID protocols. So for this week, this is what it'll be. I trust Dan Quinn to get creative enough to find a scheme that will work to generate a pass rush.

Rob: Tarell Basham would probably disagree that they're inexperienced behind Tank and Gregory. Basham has played 59 career games with 12 starts, and he's been a solid run defender throughout his career. At left end, setting the edge against the run is just as important as rushing the passer. The Cowboys are always analyzing their roster and looking for potential help, but I don't see them making an impactful outside move this week, just three days until kickoff. They're rolling with the guys here at defensive end, and obviously Micah Parsons was drafted in part because he can be a pressure player, too.

I believe our linebackers are now the strength of the defense. With that said what are your thoughts on the Cowboys switching to a 3-4 to put more if our best players on the field and allow some of the linebackers to blitz off the edge to make up for the absence of Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence? — NICHOLAS CORMIER / VALRICO, FL

Nick: Well, no disrespect to the question, but it goes a little deeper than that. This isn't like playing Madden where you can list all of a sudden run a 3-4 and then a 4-3 or a 3-3-5 stack. Now, there are variations of the defense and maybe what you're asking is the Cowboys run more of that. But even in a 3-4 scheme, Tank and Gregory are the rushers on the edge. So, it's still going to rely on having some pass rushers. I think the Cowboys will rely on Next Man Up before changing it up drastically.

Rob: Honestly, the defense has presented those looks already going all the way back to last season. We've seen Jaylon Smith blitz from the linebacker spot and rush off the edge. Situational edge pressure is also part of Micah Parsons' job description. Will the Cowboys do more of that? We'll see. When you lose your best defensive player (Lawrence) for several weeks, that probably requires getting a little more creative. The primary responsibility falls to Tarell Basham and Dorance Armstrong, who have the size not only to rush but also hold up against the run on the line of scrimmage.

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