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Mailbag: Importance Of DT In This Scheme?


Defensive tackle appears to be a position that is having and will have more transition, so what are the traits and qualities that the scouts and coaches value to play DT in this defensive scheme? — BILL CONWAY / PALM SPRINGS, CA

Nick: Great question. Wish we knew a little bit more about what this scheme actually is and what it's designed to do. Clearly, it's not working very well. But from the offseason, it appeared obvious the Cowboys were hoping for bigger lineman that could plug the middle. It didn't work with Poe and of course, McCoy got hurt. But I would imagine the idea is to stop the run and let the linebackers go hunt the ball. So far, it hasn't worked at all. But I think the idea is to get run-stoppers in here that can eat up blocks.

Jonny: Ultimately run-stopping has to be a baseline for a defensive tackle at this point in Dallas. Yes, it's a passing league, and yes, getting to the quarterback is key to getting wins. But offenses have always been willing to take what's easy if it's right there in front of them. And Dallas has made running the ball very easy for their opponents. If runners are getting to the linebackers without being touched they will dominate the time of possession and break off a few huge runs.

Who do you think would be the best five up front on the offensive line? I think Cameron Erving, Joe Looney, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin and move Connor Williams to right tackle. To me Williams is more fit to be a tackle than a guard. He has the feet and is getting stronger. What do you think? — CRESPIN CASTILLO / LA VERNIA, TX

Nick: I just can't go there yet and say Connor Williams is among the best five at right tackle. He just hasn't played there at all. I would think the Cowboys want to keep Williams, Biadasz and Martin together as a core group and so moving him to the outside probably won't happen, unless it's an emergency in the game. For now, I can't imagine Jordan Mills and/or Greg Senat wouldn't be better options at right tackle. Maybe when Brandon Knight comes up, he slides out to the right side and replaces Terence Steele.

Jonny: I tend to agree that those are the best five to put out there. But I'm not quite on board with McCarthy's notion that playing Martin at tackle is "fantasy football." Of course it's far from ideal, but what about this season has been ideal? And of course he won't be as effective as he is at guard. But trying to find some protection for whoever plays quarterback has to be the foundation of trying to string together four decent quarters of football for this team right now. Let your best player try to solve your problems.

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