Monday, March 07, 2011
Position: Defensive End
Size: 6'5, 315
Age: 29, 5/3/82
Drafted: Round 2, Pick 35 - 2004
Experience: 7 Seasons
Salary History and Contract Status - 3/6/2009: Signed a four-year, $18 million contract. The deal contains $8 million guaranteed, including a $6 million signing bonus and $2 million in guaranteed salary. Another $4.5 million is available through incentives. 2011: $3.335 million, 2012: $4.2 million, 2013: $4.4 million (Voidable Year), 2014: Free Agent
2004 Draft Profile from Ourlads.com:17th rated DL in 2004 draft - Igor Olshansky - Oregon - 6'5 - 315 - 4.97 - Junior Eligible. Two year starter. Improving player - came on strong in '03. Played tackle primarily but was used some at end. Belongs inside at the next level. Tall. Has short but thick arms, a muscular build, and excellent strength. Explosive athlete with good speed for a big man. Offers promise as an all-around lineman. Average in his quickness off the ball. Plays a little high but he uses his hands well to control his opponents and defeat blocks. Needs to do a better job of moving his feet. Looks to win his battles with his upper body strength. Plays with effort. Good lateral player, though he's a little stiff changing directions. As a pass rusher, he has an effective swim move which he uses a lot. Very Aggressive. Quick and active with his hands. Not as strong a bull-rusher as he should be, as he tends to get turned sideways and doesn't drive his legs. Needs technique work, but he has a rare combination of size, power, speed, and athletic ability. Has medical issues - had back surgery after the '02 season.
Pre-2010: In the offseason after the 2008 season, the NFL was shocked when in the first moments of free agency, the New York Giants broke the bank to poach the Cowboys Defensive End, Chris Canty, for a 6 year deal for $42 million with over $17 million guaranteed. Canty was thought of as a pretty strong DE, but certainly not someone that the Cowboys ever intended to spend that much money on. 5 days later, the Cowboys signed a DE to replace Canty that Wade Phillips was quite familiar with, Olshansky from San Diego. This contract (4 years for $18 million - $8m guaranteed) seemed to actually be a cost savings and a lateral move as far as players are concerned. The two players are obviously different as Olshansky is thought of as more of a difficult-to-run-against-anchor and Canty was believed to be far more disruptive with the ability to put pressure on a passer. In 2009, Olshansky seemed to be the solid addition that did not show much of a drop-off and Canty spent much of the year hurt and a disappointment signing for the Giants.
2010: In 2010, it would seem that Olshansky was neither part of the problem, nor part of the solution. He was average. But, average is what the Cowboys are at too many spots on this defense. He played more snaps (574) than any DE on the roster - partially due to Marcus Spears being hurt. He would play on 1st and 2nd Down and help the Cowboys against the run. His play in that department was graded as slightly above average, but nowhere near the level of Spears when healthy. As a pass rusher he is a complete non-factor. 0 sacks and 2 QB hits over 16 games. So, he is not the run anchor they would want him to be nor is he a pass rusher that would mitigate other issues. He is not a glaring weakness at all, but he is also not a guy who other teams spend a lot of time preparing for. He does bring emotion to a rather stoic defense, which sometimes is displayed regardless of the score or situation of the game.
2011 Analysis: Don't get me wrong. Igor Olshansky can be a useful player in a certain role. But, in his current role of being the Cowboys most used defensive end, he is miscast. It is popular to say that DEs in a 3-4 defense don't often accumulate statistics. And that is true. They are there to often occupy 2 blockers and allow others to come free and make more plays. The fact that Olshansky lines up next to DeMarcus Ware should not be overlooked as Ware makes all sorts of plays. But, when I look at 3-4s that have great success, Shaun Ellis and Cullen Jenkins are disruptive ends in the 3-4 with regards to pass rush. Brett Keisel and Ryan Pickett are dynamic at plugging the run. But, to have success, your DEs need to be great at one or the other. In Olshansky, they have been needing more than they have received. I would be fine if he was a part of a solid rotation where we can drop his snaps in hopes of getting more return in run stuffing, but near 600 snaps a season offers diminishing returns. Add to this group and see improved play to those they might be over-exposing. I think this once again speaks to their need to beef up the defensive line through the draft, and perhaps their pick at #9.