The Dallas Cowboys defense is one of the best in the league and it’s led by a number of star players. But one lesser-known defensive lineman deserves as much credit as the rest for his career year.
Of course, you’ve got Micah Parsons. His 12 sacks are the second-most in the NFL and he’s the odds-on favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year.
Then, there’s Trevon Diggs who had 11 interceptions a season ago. He’s only got three this year but his abilities in coverage have improved greatly. Diggs has solidified his spot as one of the NFL’s premier shutdown CBs.
Rounding out Dallas’ big three is DeMarcus Lawrence. His 77.4 PFF player grade is the second-best on the defense. Lawrence was injured most of last season but has bounced back with six sacks and 45 tackles this year.
But the player that deserves more love is Dorance Armstrong, and here’s why:
Armstrong on pace to shatter career totals
Armstrong was a fourth-round draft pick by Dallas in 2018. In his first four seasons, he had 7.5 sacks and 98 tackles. Through 11 games this year, he’s already tallied eight sacks and 22 tackles. The only Cowboys player with more sacks is Parsons.
Armstrong had a solid showing in 2021, but an injury early in the year forced him to miss four games. One thing the former Kansas Jayhawk added to his repertoire in 2022 is playmaking on special teams.
In the Cowboys’ Week 3 win over the New York Giants, Armstrong blocked a field goal attempt early in the game:
Then in Dallas’ Week 5 victory vs. the Los Angeles Rams, Armstrong blocked a punt that set the offense up in the redzone:
Armstrong’s blocked punt came on the second drive of the game. What makes it even more special is on the opening drive, Armstrong strip-sacked Matthew Stafford and the fumble was returned for a touchdown.
Armstrong and Parsons on track to make history
Armstrong and Parsons’ impressive sacks numbers are shaping up to accomplish a feat the Cowboys haven’t seen since 2012.
Parsons already has 12 sacks, and Armstrong is just two away from hitting double-digit sacks. The last time a pair of Dallas pass rushers posted double digits sacks in the same season happened in 2012. That year, DeMarcus Ware had 11.5 sacks and Anthony Spencer had 11 sacks.
Before that, two or more Cowboys defenders have only combined for double digits sacks twice in franchise history. It happened in 2007 with Ware and Greg Ellis, and before that it was Ed ‘Too Tall’ Jones, Jim Jeffcoat and Randy White in 1985.
The NFL only started tracking sacks in 1982. So it likely happened before then, too. But we’ll never know.