What Role Will Veteran Tyrone Crawford Play In 2017?

Tyrone Crawford

When we take a look into the defensive linemen for the Cowboys’ we see they have plenty of bodies along the line. Whether it’s David Irving, Benson Mayowa, or DeMarcus Lawrence a lot of these guys can play multiple positions along the defensive line. The one guy who may have the most flexibility is Tyrone Crawford.

Tyrone Crawford is going into year three of his five year, $45,000,000 contract with the Dallas Cowboys. When Tyrone Crawford signed his contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 the team had high hopes that Crawford would be a dominant player for their defense. While he has been serviceable he has also been far from dominant.

In his five years in the league and with the Dallas Cowboys, Tyrone Crawford has raked up 12.5 sacks and 77 tackles in 61 career games. While that is nothing to write home about, it’s also nothing to shake a stick at either. Crawford has been banged up throughout his career with the Cowboys. When healthy he is one of the better players along the defensive line, but that’s the thing, he is rarely at full strength. In 2016 alone he dealt with multiple injuries to his shoulder and back that kept him out of practices and limited his level of play in games. Crawford has had multiple surgeries in his career and sooner or later that will catch up to you.

With that being said, it’s not all negative with #98. Crawford is a leader of the defense and brings a veteran presence to the locker room. He also has come up with clutch plays over his career. In 2016 in week two against the Washington Redskins he came up with a huge sack late in the 4th quarter on Kirk Cousins to all but spoil the Redskins comeback attempt.

While he deals with his fair share of injuries and sometimes criticism for disappearing at times in games or sometimes even throughout the season, no player along the Cowboys defensive line has the flexibility that Crawford has. In his career, he has played left end, right end, 3 technique, and even some 1 technique. Having a player that can play on the outside and play with speed and good technique to get his sacks is great. When you match that with the same guy who can play with the amount of strength and discipline to play inside like Crawford does it just makes the deal so much sweeter.

Fans like to look at the former Boise State Broncos contract and compare it to his production and criticize the player and even the team at time, but they fail to realize what Crawford brings to the table with his leadership qualities and the flexibility to play all four positions along the line. Tyrone Crawford is by no means a dominant starting caliber player for the Dallas Cowboys, but he is very important to the team and making the defense work. I have a feeling 2017 may be Crawford’s best season yet as he’ll take on more of a leadership role on this team now, more than ever.

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Cowboys 2017 DL – Depth, Rotations & Snaps

Depth Chart
This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series 2017 Cowboys Depth, Rotations & Snaps

In this series we break down the potential Dallas Cowboys depth chart, rotations and snap counts for the 2017 season.

It’s the modern NFL. Free agency is here to stay and organizations have to deal with moving parts each season. There is more to building a team each year than just finding the best 11 starters for each side of the ball. In this era of specialization and pass-happy offenses a “starter” is a fluid term to say the least. Teams employing three and four receiver sets have to be countered with defenses that echo that alignment. Ultimately it comes down to not only your starters, but your positional depth and/or the snap counts players get. It’s not getting the best 53 players to put a pen on a contract. It’s getting the right 53.

Ed Note: Click here for the latest Dallas Cowboys Depth Chart. It’s interactive and exportable.

As of today rookies are rookies and have yet to earn stars on their helmets. However these players were obtained for a reason and our lineups reflects that. Today we’re going to look at the potential 2017 Cowboys defensive line rotations.

Defensive Line Starters

  • WDE – Taco Charlton
  • 1-Tech – Maliek Collins
  • 3-Tech – Tyrone Crawford/David Irving
  • SDE – DeMarcus Lawrence/David Irving

A versatile front that can play the run and the pass the team was showing variations of this alignment from Rookie through Involuntary OTA’s. Rod Marinelli want’s to put his best players on the field. Can Taco stop the run AND get to the QB? We will find out soon. Three factors will determine the strong side/3-tech shakeout. Tyrone Crawford’s ability to turn it up a notch fully healthy. DeMarcus Lawrence’s ability to get healthy and David Irving’s progress as a player which may eclipse anything the other two can counter with. With Crawford, Lawrence and Collins the team gets veterans who can diagnose early down plays and have the talent to get to the ball.

Breaking News: Looming 4 game PED suspension being reported for David Irving …. 

Defensive Line Run Alignment

  • WDE – Taco Charlton
  • 1-Tech – Cedric Thornton/Stephen Paea
  • 3-Tech – Maliek Collins
  • SDE – DeMarcus Lawrence/David Irving

Crawford sits this one out. He needs to stay healthy and limiting his snaps on the inside will be key. His versatility to play run/pass is his best asset and he should get the majority of his snaps in versatile alignments. Thornton has the strength/size to be a force on the inside and is ably backed up by Stephen Paea who could push for Thornton’s snaps. Lawrence may very well get the same treatment as Crawford here and sit this alignment out. Charlton and Collins are uniquely suited for their roles and along with Irving bring the ability to disrupt the running game from all three positions.

Defensive Line Pass Alignment

  • WDE – Benson Mayowa/Damontre Moore/Charles Tapper
  • 1-Tech – Maliek Collins
  • 3-Tech – David Irving
  • SDE – DeMarcus Lawrence/David Irving/Charles Tapper

Mayowa was bringing the heat towards the end of last season and there is no reason he shouldn’t continue his growth. The Cowboys really like his skill set and the light seems to have come on. Moore is the risk/reward offseason acquisition who if he plays like he did in Seattle could be a starter. Tapper is a total wild card. Much like Collins was miscast in college as a two gapper. Tapper is seen as a guy that can excel in Rod Marinelli’s defense. Collins and Irving from the inside on passing downs is a nightmare for opposing lines.

  • WDE – Benson Mayowa/Damontre Moore/Charles Tapper
  • DT – Maliek Collins
  • SDE – David Irving

On third and long the Cowboys occasionally go to a three man line. These guys all have motors that won’t quit and have the wheels to chase down screens and trick plays.

Defensive Line Rotation

  1. Taco Charlton
  2. Maliek Collins
  3. Tyrone Crawford
  4. DeMarcus Lawrence
  5. Benson Mayowa
  6. Cedric Thornton
  7. David Irving
  8. Charles Tapper
  9. Stephen Paea
  10. Joey Ivie

Tapper will be the last man on game day with Paea and Ivie looking for the occasional injury or matchup fill in. The starters will get theirs but look for the next four guys in the rotation to receive very heavy snap counts. As part of the team game plan they follow the 90’s scheme of lower counts for the starters and a solid rotation.

Defensive Line On The Bubble

  1. Tyrone Crawford
  2. Cedric Thornton
  3. Stephen Paea
  4. Charles Tapper
  5. Joey Ivie

In order. Crawford can’t afford to step back and needs to stay healthy. His contract is larger than his production. Thornton and Paea could very well be looking at the same roster spot. Tapper got his redshirt season. Now he needs to step up and be productive. Ivie is on the outside looking in but has that special thing that’s hard to describe. He’s a Marinelli player. Motor and talent. Still, he’s on the outside looking in and has a long road in front of him.

Defensive Line Dark Horses

  • DE Darnell Leslie
  • DE Zach Wood

Wood is an effort guy who is also direct competition for the long snapper position which has been ably maned for many years by L.P. Ladouceur. Wood has the ability to contribute on every special teams unit at a high level. As a member of a defensive line rotation, he would be an emergency guy.

Darnell Leslie is listed everywhere as a defensive end. He played more snaps in college in a two point stance and the Cowboys were using him a lot at LB at OTA’s. At 235 lbs his skill set screams special teams however he does have a knack for rushing the QB and that has to be looked at. To wit from his bio:

“Finished career tied for 7th all-time in sacks despite only playing three seasons” – MU Bio

If you can get to the QB who needs an official position anyhow?

We will move to the offensive side of the ball next. Til then.

What say you Sports Nation?

Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over