The defensive linemen had no idea who Rod Marinelli was referring to the first time he used “Ringo” when referring to Jack Crawford.
The Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator explained that since Crawford hails from London, Ringo Starr seemed a natural nickname. But Marinelli was met with blank stares; only Crawford was familiar with Starr.
“He said ‘Ringo’ and nobody knew who that was,” Crawford said. “It’s just for some reason that name has stuck throughout this whole organization. I’m OK with it. As long as they keep calling my name, I’ve got a job, right? They can call me whatever they want as long as I get to play.”
They can call me whatever they want as long as I get to play.
Cowboys defensive end Jack Crawford, who has been dubbed “Ringo”
The Cowboys have eight defensive linemen on their 53-player roster for the season opener against the New York Giants. Nearly all of them have earned nicknames, even if Cowboys fans might not know their real names.
Rookie Charles Tapper is “Trapper.” David Irving, who stands 6-foot-7, answers to “Dino the Dinosaur.” Rookie Maliek Collins, who stands 6-foot-1, goes by “Shorty.”
Answering to the nickname, though, doesn’t necessarily mean they like it.
“He acts like I’m 5-11 or something,” said Collins, sighing. “But if I’m short, I’m short. You don’t argue with him.”
Irving’s pet name has grown on him.
“I didn’t like it at first,” Irving said. “But he’s persistent. Now, it’s just natural. It’s my name. Everyone’s caught onto it.”
With defensive ends Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence suspended to start the season, it’ll be the Nickname Defense that takes the field trying to sack Eli Manning.
The Cowboys had 28 sacks in 2014 and improved to only 31 last season with Lawrence and Greg Hardy. Crawford and Benson Mayowa, who have four combined starts and a total of eight career sacks, start at end Sunday.
We feel good about how our defensive line has grown over the course of the off-season and training camp. I’m excited to see those guys play.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett
“Some of the best pass rushers I’ve been around have to do with one great rusher,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, “but some of the best rushers I’ve been around have a lot to do with guys rotating in and guys staying fresh and creating different matchups across the board depending on what the situation is. We feel good about how our defensive line has grown over the course of the off-season and training camp. I’m excited to see those guys play.”
The Cowboys do not have a defensive lineman with double-digit career sacks. Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford’s eight career sacks are the most among the linemen on the active roster.
“No question anytime you line up and guys haven’t put up double-digit sacks or something [there is a concern],” Marinelli said. “But I believe that these men have an opportunity to go in [and play well]. You’ve got to start somewhere to be a great player. Let’s start this week.”
The Cowboys’ defensive linemen have more confidence than they have career sacks. The eight have combined for only 92 starts and 22.5 career sacks. Houston defensive end J.J. Watt had 17.5 sacks last season.
“If you’re not confident D-linemen then when it comes to pass-rush, we’re going to have a problem,” Tyrone Crawford said. “So we’ve definitely got to have our confidence, and we’ve got to have our skill levels up, and I feel like we do. I feel like a lot of guys have done well in pass rush, and we just need to carry it over to the field, and I feel like we’ll do that.”
The defensive-line room has bought into Marinelli’s idea of “four equals one.”
“Four linemen working together to get a sack,” Tyrone Crawford explained. “It’s just the way we go about our different rushes. We focus on being in our lanes. We run different games, and we just know where we have to be in order to front the quarterback, keep him in the pocket. Give good pressure for him to just throw it up and our secondary make plays or we get sacks.
“That’s the plan, and that’s what we’ve got to do. That’s what we’ve got to get done.”
Cowboys vs. Giants
3:25 p.m. Sunday, KDFW/4