Free agency has not been kind to Dallas' defense, but at least one Cowboys pass rusher is optimistic about the unit's outlook in 2017.
Within the first two weeks of the new league year, the Cowboys saw their secondary completely fleeced by the open market, losing Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Barry Church to AFC opponents and J.J. Wilcox and defensive tackle Terrell McClain to NFC playoff contenders in Tampa Bay and Washington. On top of that, the organization has yet to acquire the "war daddy" pass rusher for which owner Jerry Jones has been clamoring following their premature exit in last year's divisional round.
"I just trust we have a plan," the defensive lineman told the Dallas Morning News on Friday. "With the defense that we run, (defensive coordinator Rod) Marinelli is going to get a guy in there and he's going to have him doing the right thing anyway. I'm excited for next year. I'm not worried about what's happening this offseason. Just excited to get going."
The "guy" that Marinelli will likely plug in to make up for the absence of Carr and Claiborne is new cornerback Nolan Carroll, but his acquisition doesn't solve Dallas' main problems on defense: skill and depth.
Heavily armed on offense with Pro Bowl-level, and often young, talent at every position, the Cowboys must turn their attention to the other side of the ball if they are to match up with a new crop of NFC East receivers in Brandon Marshall, Terrelle Pryor and Alshon Jeffery. That's before even thinking about contending in the postseason with the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and, just maybe, Tom Brady buying time in the pocket.
Dallas' "plan", as Crawford puts it, should then be to target corners, defensive linemen and outside linebackers in the late first round and build through the draft. Then, hope they develop and flourish in Marinelli's system in time for a Super Bowl run.