I asked Jason Garrett, in the wake of the Dallas Cowboys using a completely different look along the defensive line to seal the 27-23 win at Washington, if that look -- featuring 3-Tech tackle Tyrone Crawford at left defensive end and featuring rookie Maliek Collins at tackle -- was something Dallas has practiced or more of a "grab-bag'' thing.
RedBall doesn't like looking "grab-bag,'' so he didn't completely cop to what I already knew was the truth: Crawford hadn't really practiced at all last week at end; Dallas found answers on the run against the Redskins, and Crawford outside and Collins inside was something invented in the fly, an alignment scratched into the dirt an idea ... that might stick.
"We had low numbers, so you make do,'' Crawford told me. "Everybody held it down and everybody stepped up. We had (new) people playing nose all the way out to end. You just make do.''
The move came in the second half of the win, with Jack Crawford -- another versatile D-lineman -- getting a sack from the LDE spot earlier in the same, and Tyrone recording one late to help propel the Cowboys to their 1-1 record.
On Tuesday, in a Frisco locker room full of assorted Cowboys with bumps and bruises and worse (QB Tony Romo was in the building working on his return while at the same time Orlando Scandrick wobbled uncomfortably to the therapy room), Crawford came out of the game much more fresh and physically unburdened than he normally might after 60 minutes as a 3-Tech.
“I feel like I get hit by a bus (playing inside)” Crawford told reporters. “And this time after the game, I feel like a friggin' butterfly.''
Crawford sacked quarterback Kirk Cousins for an 8-yard loss on Washington’s final drive, transforming a second-and-two into a third-and-10. It was a great example of how this much-maligned D found success in key moments, in clutch situations, safety Barry Church's second-half interception in the end zone being another notable example.
As Jack Crawford told me: "There is a lot of talent in this locker room. We understand what the standard is. We have to figure out how to get to that standard, one way or another.''
Jack told me he might work more at right end. "Practicing against Tyron Smith is my big test,'' he said.
So ... Jack Crawford playing over here and over there. Terrell McClain is good inside. Benson Mayowa as a speed-rusher outside, though he got pushed around a bit in Washington, part of what necessitated the grab-bag change. Ryan Davis as another edge guy, though he didn't find himself activated last week. David Irving is talented but the coaches will say he's inconsistent, that he plays "young.'' Zach Moore up from the practice squad? Rookie Charles Tapper getting healthy enough to join Maliek as a force?
"The young guy Maliek, I keep telling him, he's a baller,'' Tyrone told me. "He's got moves inside. I tell him to keep going.''
And Crawford -- recognized in part because he's playing with the five-year, $45-million extension given him before last seasonn -- needs to keep going, too. Inside, outside. Left end, right end. ... at least until Tank Lawrence returns in two weeks from drug suspension.
"I missed a lot of training camp,'' Tyrone told me, "so I've got a lot to get down. My steps, my reads, my keys, my techniques. Do all that, and then keep getting better and then keep bouncing back.''
Sometimes that means getting to float outside like a butterfly, sometimes it means playing inside and getting stung like a ... bus.