The Dallas Cowboys defense is off to a monumental start. They rank third in the NFL in points allowed, first in the NFL in sacks (24), are tied for second in red-zone defense, and are ranked 10th in third-down defense with a 33% conversion rate. With star players like Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs, it’s easy to see why they’ve been so good. However, there have been multiple unsung heroes who have made plays when it matters most. Here are four players who have contributed to the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive success.
Donovan Wilson, S
Dallas’ former 2019, the sixth-round pick has stepped up big this season. Last year, Wilson showed promise while being Jayron Kearse’s backup. With Kearse dealing with an injury, Wilson has been able to fill his role effectively. This season, the Texas A&M product recorded 44 total tackles (team high), two tackles for loss, two sacks, five Qb hits, two passes defended, and one interception. Wilson is currently ranked the second-best safety in the league, according to Next Gen Stats. He was given a 95-tackling score and a 90 coverage score.
Wilson’s tackling ability is his best attribute, as he hasn’t let up as a tackler this year. He has also shown that he can make plays on the ball. Wilson had a strong start in the season opener against Tampa Bay with an interception. In coverage, he has played well, only allowing 13 completions on 22 targets for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Tom Brady PICKED OFF 😳
Brady intercepted on third-down by Donovan Wilson.pic.twitter.com/mDJ7BCxLOr
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 12, 2022
Dorance Armstorng, DE
It’s easy to commend Micah Parsons for the Cowboy’s success in being a dominant pass rush unit, however, Parsons isn’t the only one who deserves all the praise. 2018 fourth-round pick, Dorance Armstrong has stepped up heavily for the Cowboys’ defense.
The fourth-year defensive end is having a strong start to the season, tallying 14 total tackles, five sacks, four tackles for loss, seven Qb hits, a forced fumble, and nine pressures in six games. His best game of the season came in week 5 against the Rams, where he recorded two total tackles, a strip sack recovered by Demarcus Lawrence for a touchdown, a Qb hit, and a blocked punt. Such performance earned him the Week 5 Player of the Game honor and an 84.6 PFF grade.
Dorance Armstrong wrecking this game early pic.twitter.com/ja3jGip8Kq
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) October 9, 2022
After Randy Gregory left for Denver, Dallas fans feared they wouldn’t be able to replace him. Dorance Armstrong has given Cowboys fans hope with what the future holds for him and the Cowboys’ defense.
Osa Odighizuwa, DT
A once-weak position has turned into an area of strength for the Dallas Cowboys, in large part due to guys like Osa Odighizuwa. The 2021, third-round pick was considered to be a reach by Dallas, however, Osa has proven skeptics wrong with his current performance.
Throughout the span of five games, he’s recorded 14 total tackles, one sack, four tackles for loss, four Qb hits, and five pressures while only taking 58% of the team’s defensive snaps. Even with such a low snap count, Osa is ranked 25th at his position by PFF this season, along with having the second-highest pass rush win rate by an interior defender (behind only Aaron Donald).
Osa Odighizuwa 97 ripping through the overtake pic.twitter.com/sjyoWmF8jZ
— James Foster (@NoFlagsFilm) October 11, 2022
Osa deserves more recognition, and with an increase in his performance, he will earn a starting spot in a deep, rotational defensive line unit. Fans should start looking out for #97 more, as he will only continue to dominate.
Malik Hooker, S
The way Malik Hooker has been able to resurrect his career in Dallas has been remarkable. Hooker went from never playing a complete season with the Colts due to injury to playing a pivotal role in the Cowboys’ top-tier defensive unit. With the return of Jayron Kearse and the rise of Donovan Wilson, Hooker joins one of the most feared safety groups in the league.
Malik Hooker comes up with the huge INT for the @DallasCowboys 🔥
📺: #DALvsLAR on FOX
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/dCuo7DIlNd pic.twitter.com/J6Jh14Nakq
— NFL (@NFL) October 9, 2022
So far this season he’s been nothing more than great for Dallas, as he’s recorded 34 total tackles (3rd in the team), one tackle for loss one interception, and one pass defended. In coverage, he’s allowed eight completions on 10 targets for only 63 yards and no touchdowns. According to PFF, he’s ranked as the No. 4 graded safety in the league. His performance will be crucial down the road, as Dallas faces tougher opponents.
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