2013 Dallas Cowboys Position Reviews: Defensive Ends
The Cowboys must focus on a defensive end in the 2014 NFL Draft
By Matthew Postins
Cowboys 2013 Position Review: Defensive end
RattleandHumSports.com is breaking down every position group for the 2013 Dallas Cowboys. Today it’s the defensive ends.
DeMarcus Ware (starter), George Selvie (starter), Jarius Wynn (backup), Kyle Wilber (backup), Edgar Jones (backup), Everette Brown (backup).
Other notable players: Anthony Spencer (spent entire season on IR), Ben Bass (spent most of season on IR), Tyrone Crawford (spent entire season on IR).
In 2013: From the start this unit was behind the 8-ball. In training camp the Cowboys lost Tyrone Crawford, who was expected to be a vital backup to Anthony Spencer on the left side. The Cowboys then lost Spencer for the preseason to knee surgery and for the rest of the season after he re-aggravated the injury against Kansas City. What followed was an endless parade of retreads and out-of-work free agents that had varying degrees of impact. The best of the bunch was George Selvie, who was signed during camp after Spencer’s surgery and finished the season with seven sacks, more than any other Cowboys defensive end. Yes, more than perennial Pro Bowl and All-Pro pass rusher DeMarcus Ware, who had just six sacks on the season. Ware fought injuries for the majority of the season, missing games for the first time in his career. Ware’s struggles have led to speculation that the 31-yard old end might be feeling his age. As the Cowboys drafted no defensive ends last April, the pipeline of talent at this position group is quite dry.
The Cowboys did an extremely good job rushing the passer to start the season, especially in the first five games. But by the end of the season the Cowboys were ranked No. 27 in the NFL in sacks with 2.1 per game, their exact average in 2012.
Looking ahead: Along with the interior defensive line, the defensive end position will be a critical need this offseason. The Cowboys will likely need Ware to restructure his contract for cap space (he’s indicated he’s open to that, but not a pay cut). The Cowboys’ cap woes will likely keep them from re-signing Spencer to a long-term deal, which is their only choice after using the franchise tag to keep him each of the last two years. Selvie, fortunately, is locked up for 2014. The Cowboys need several things to go that way. They need Ware to get healthy and get back to his Pro Bowl form. They need Crawford to make an impact in 2014. They need a player like Wynn (who is a free agent) or Wilber to make progress. And, perhaps most importantly, the Cowboys have to identify and draft an end for the future. Like cornerback a couple of years ago, the defensive front four needs Jerry Jones’ undivided attention this offseason.
Next up: Defensive tackles.