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Mailbag: Garrett's Aggressive Playcalling; Keeping Tyrone Crawford At DE?

PAUL KARAMHOUSTON, TX

Do you see a scenario where DeMarcus Lawrence plays strong-side defensive end when he returns and Tyrone Crawford moves to the weak side? If the team is considering Jack Crawford at the weak side, why not Tyrone Crawford?

Rob: The current modified lineup seems to be working, so yes, I could see Crawford staying at defensive end when Lawrence is eligible to return from suspension in Week 5. The strength of the Cowboys' defensive line is their tackles. Terrell McClain has been their most consistent player, and they wanted to get Maliek Collins more snaps. Crawford might fit better on the strong (left) side because he's 295 pounds and has the strength to set the edge there. The Cowboys drafted Lawrence with the belief he could be a right-end rusher. When he returns, it'll be interesting to see if that's one of Rod Marinelli's line combinations. He's been trying different groups to see which fits best.

David: It's hard to predict what they're going to do, but my preference would be to move DeMarcus Lawrence to the right side and figure out the left side as you go – whether it's with Tyrone Crawford, Jack Crawford or a combination. This defense has managed to get some sacks, but it's still not a fearsome unit. Putting Lawrence on the right side could help with that.

MICHAEL MCCOWNFRANKFURT, GERMANY

I noticed just before the ad break going into the fourth quarter that Coach Garrett looked at someone and aggressively shouted "Let's win this!" With the surprise onside kick, and now going for it on fourth down in consecutive games, would you say that there is a systemic change in the coach's mindset from one of staying in a game to have a chance to win it at the end, to one of playing to win from the first snap?  Whether or not that's the case, I certainly like what we're getting to see!

Rob: I think Jason Garrett is always playing to win from the first snap, but yes, he indeed tried an onside kick in Week 2 and went for it on fourth-and-1 in two straight games – in the first quarter, no less. It's an aggressive approach despite their faith in Dan Bailey as a field goal kicker, and I think it speaks to a couple of things: he wants to give his rookie quarterback as many opportunities to cash in inside the red zone as possible, and there's a lot of confidence in him and this new running game with Ezekiel Elliott. The offensive line is controlling the offensive line more each week. They've already got seven rushing touchdowns, one shy of last year's season total.

David: That's an interesting point and it's honestly one that I hadn't considered very heavily. I don't know if Garrett has had a total philosophy change, but I have to applaud his willingness to take some chances in his first few weeks. If your offensive line is as good as you say it is, and your running backs are as talented as they're supposed to be, it just makes sense to go for it on 4th-and-short when you're in favorable field position. It's something that coaches don't do often enough, and it's been a nice change to see from Garrett.

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