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Mailbag: Will The Scheme Help Tank? Heavy At WR?


I think everyone would like to see DeMarcus Lawrence's sack numbers go up this year. How can Dan Quinn's defensive scheme do that, and have the Cowboys added enough players on the D-Line and defensive backfield to help him out? — JOEY ARNEL SAYSON / SANTA MONICA, CA

Nick: I think the second part to your question is the key. The guys around D-Law must step up their play. They can't just put the entire focus on Tank and live with the other guys beating them. If the play around him is better, Tank will be better as well. But all that being said, he has to play like he did towards the end of the year – when he was healthy. Let's not forget that he goes up against right tackles for the most part. For the money he's making, he needs to win most of the time. Not every time of course, but he needs to have better numbers as well. There are lots of answers to this but I think if the talent around him is better, Lawrence will be better, too.

Jonny: I think that it all has to kind of work in tandem. Sack numbers are hard to come by so it's rare to for a coordinator to just implement something that adds, say, three sacks to a player's total. But Michael Bennett had a pretty healthy sack total every year he played under Quinn. The rest of the line has to get pressure. The secondary has to cover. And Tank just has to be better, too. He has been a good football player the past two years, but he is paid like a player who doesn't need the perfect scenario to dominate.

Is it my imagination or are the Cowboys going heavy on wide receivers with very few available roster spots? By all indications, the Cowboys looked loaded at wide receiver for at least the coming season. And yet, they drafted one in the fifth round, added several undrafted free agent wideouts to the roster, and just signed another receiver (Johnnie Dixon) this week. Are they fishing for diamonds in the rough? — PETER MALLIRIS / EUGENE, OR

Nick: You're always fishing – every second of the day. The Cowboys signed Terrell Owens in 2006 and had Terry Glenn on the team and still tried to find guys like Sam Hurd and Miles Austin. So that will always happen. But I wouldn't say the position is loaded with players. Other than the top three, who has to make the team? Cedrick Wilson probably will and maybe Noah Brown, too. But they don't have to if someone is better, plus it'd be cheaper to go with a younger player. Simi Fehoko looks like he can add something but we'll find out. He's not a roster lock. I think there's just a ton of options and things will just work themselves out like always.

Jonny: They're always looking for diamonds in the rough. The number of undrafted free agent they brought won't reflect what they keep on the roster. Receivers can make all sorts of plays on tape that give a staff a hunch, and they just want to have the players who intrigued them on the field to see if they think they've got a few special NFL skills. No position is safe from injuries. Look at the O-Line last year. If the front office is finding talent at receiver they'll worry about the tough decisions later.

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