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The numbers behind this Cowboys defense

UnknownOXNARD, Calif. - The thought of the Dallas Cowboys with Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick and a completely healthy Henry Melton was frightening enough. Without them, the numbers will scare the hell out of even the most optimistic fan, coach, or general manager/owner/team president. Or it should.

The Cowboys' defensive depth chart prompted NFL Network analyst Ross Tucker (@RossTuckerNFL) to Tweet this week: "Cowboys have worst defensive depth chart (1st 4 games) I've seen since I entered NFL in 2001. I'm serious."

First-year Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is pressing on with the likes of Hayden, Mincey, Wilber, Durant, Carter and .. Oh Good God.

"I love these guys," Marnelli said after a recent Cowboys' walk-through. "They are hustling, and trying to learn exactly what to do."

That beats the alternative of: "I hate these guys.
 They are mailing it in, and not trying to learn a thing."

In 2013, the Cowboys had one of the worst defenses in the history of the NFL, yet managed to somehow finish 8-8 and a few seconds away from reaching the playoffs.

"We are still trying to develop an identity," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "We have had the issue of a number of our front line guys not being in a consistent basis."

The sight of their depth chart suggests that 2014 could potentially be worse.

Unknown-1LDE: George Selvie. 4 NFL seasons. 4 teams. 10 sacks.

DT: Nick Hayden
. 5 NFL seasons. 3 teams. 1 sack.
DT: Henry Melton (week to week; groin)
. 4 NFL seasons. 2 teams. 15.5 sacks.
RDE: Jeremy Mincey $ 8 seasons. 4 teams. 20 sacks.

SLB: Kyle Wilber. 2 seasons. 26 games. 2 sacks. 2 fum rec.

MLB: Justin Durant *.  7 seasons. 3 teams. 3.5 sacks.

WLB: Bruce Carter. 3 seasons. 36 games. 2 sacks. 0 turnovers created.
LCB: Brandon Carr
. 6 seasons. 2 teams. 96 games. 14 int. 5 fum rec.
RCB: Morris Claiborne. 2 seasons. 25 games. 2 int.

FS: Barry Church
. 4 seasons. 47 games. 1 int.
SS: J.J. Wilcox. 1 season. 15 games. 1 pbu

* It should be noted that if Rolando McClain, who is currently listed behind Durant on the depth chart, gets his stuff together this position makes a dramatic improvement. 
This is monumental if.

$ The Cowboys are hoping that veteran Anthony Spencer may be ready by Week 1 after he missed nearly all of last season and had micro-fracture surgery on his knee. This would be a coup if Spencer can play, and come even close to being the player he was before the injury.

"We knew we were in a situation before we came to camp," Jerry Jones said. "You see the numbers on the defensive line."

This is always a fallback for Jerry - the numbers. Every team has numbers. A number of defensive linemen. A number of linebackers. Those players wear numbers, too.

It's the other numbers that are frightening.

Facebook Mac Engel



In 2012 the Dallas brain trust decided that it was worth picks #14 and #45 to move up 8 spots and select Morris Claiborne. Pick 14 wound up being Michael Brockers and 45 became Alshon Jeffery. There were many different directions the Cowboys could have gone at the time. I was hoping for David DeCastro with 14 and Janoris Jenkins with 45, but there were plenty of good players available if you wanted to go straight defense with those two picks.

Fast forward to 2014 and the Cowboys gave up their second and third round picks to move up 13 spots and take Demarcus Lawrence, a player who some thought would slide to the Cowboys anyway. Most draft experts thought the Cowboys overpaid for moving up, but that's not surprising. In 2013 they didn't get adequate value in return when they made the trade with San Francisco to move down and take Travis Frederick. Jerry generally gets fleeced in trades whether he's trading up or down. It's not hard to see why the defense is in such deplorable shape. Poor drafting, questionable free agency decisions, and salary cap mismanagement over a period of years is responsible for the product you see on defense today.

Rob Tentoy

Wouldn't it be crazy if the Rangers and their next door neighbor the Cowboys each finished 2014 as the worst team in their respective sports? Two #1 draft picks for Arlington, home of the worst sports GMs?

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