It was a play that lacked highlight reel flash, but it screamed with importance. Early in the Dallas Cowboys win over the New York Giants this past Sunday, New York faced a third-and-short in its own territory.
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn put in a seven-man front to counter the Giants power formation. It was a standard 5-2 look, with three linemen in a Bear front, covering the two guards and center.
At the snap, rookie defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa crashed into the backfield and spilled the Giants’ running back short of the first-down marker. A punt resulted.
Odighizuwa has flashed big-play ability in this early season, against the run and the especially on passing downs, and has eased the blow of losing fellow tackle Neville Gallimore to injury in the preseason. What catches the eye is the manner in which Odighizuwa made his impact.
A normal 4-3 defensive tackle, Quinn had him standing up on this down, as one of the ends in his five-man front. This is a position versatility the rookie has not shown before, one that hints at bigger things for the Cowboys’ pass rush when Demarcus Lawrence returns from his broken foot some time after the bye week.
Quinn will then have four rush options he can deploy across his fronts on passing downs – Odighizuma, fellow rookie Micah Parsons, Lawrence and Randy Gregory. The quartet will give the Cowboys the best rush depth and versatility since their championship days of the early and mid 1990s. A comparison between the two units shows that while this bunch lacks the run stopping depth of those title lines, it’s comparable as a rushing force.