The training wheels are off for Taco Charlton — he’s on his own.
That’s what Dallas Cowboys star defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence relayed Friday, one day after Charlton landed with Dallas’ Week 3 opponent, the Miami Dolphins, and ended a disappointing three-year tenure in the Lone Star State.
For someone who’s been characterized as a “soft Taco,” a personality defect which expedited his release, Lawrence wants to see Charlton harden his … shell.
“Taco always a brother, congratulations on him getting another opportunity with Miami,” he told reporters, per the Dallas Morning News. “But he still got to keep that same Hot Boyz mentality as he travels and goes on his journey. He ain’t here for us to hold his hand no more.”
Lawrence continued: “If you understand what a Hot Boy is you know day-in and day-out you go out there and work your f*ckin ass off to be the best. We expect that from him.”
Perhaps Charlton will better jibe with Miami’s coaching staff, led by rookie, defensive-minded head man Brian Flores. Because he certainly never did with the Cowboys’ coaches, and he was an especially toxic project for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who tried, and failed, to instill consistency in the 24-year-old.
“Here it is. You don’t beat around the bush. Here’s what we’ve got to do,” Marinelli said last month, via the Dallas Morning News. “Here’s what you have to do to be the type of player you want to be and we want you to be.”
Once Marinelli cast his glims on rookie DE Joe Jackson, the antithesis, it was a wrap for Taco, who quickly plummeted down the depth chart — to the point of inactivity.
“That was obviously the key thing that got him was Joe,” Cowboys VP Stephen Jones admitted Friday. “He preferred Joe over Taco.”
Despite whispers regarding his unflattering standing within The Star, however, Jones took a classy approach to his exit. Like Lawrence, he expressed hope that Charlton has a better go in South Florida than he did in North Texas.
“I think sometimes the chemistry just doesn’t work with a player,” Jones told the Cowboys’ official website on Thursday, via 105.3 The Fan. “With Rod, he has certain standards that he looks for in a player. I just don’t think they ever saw eye-to-eye in terms of what that standard should be. We wish Taco nothing but the best, and I think he’ll go on to be a productive player in this league. A change of scenery will probably do him some good.”
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Jerry Crunches Taco
Unlike his son, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones employed a blunt approach in addressing Charlton’s waiving, which marred his sterling first-round draft record. Appearing on 105.3 The Fan, Jones spilled the beans on Charlton by touching on his poor practice habits and a tendency to crumble under the pressure of expectation.
“He just wilted,” Jones said Friday, adding that defensive linemen must “eat a lot of raw meat” to adequately play the position. Apparently, Taco, of all appropriately-named people, didn’t have enough protein in his diet.
Beyond that, his lack of production (four sacks in three seasons) and inflexibility (can’t kick inside) contributed to his anticipated pink slip, a rare admission of failure for the Cowboys, who have become a model of consistency in building a club from within rather than through free agency.
“You can’t have your No. 1 pick, for talent reasons or compatibility reasons, not make it. We depend on motivation,” Jones said on The Fan.
Charlton to Play Sunday?
Many foresee Charlton being a healthy scratch for the Dolphins at AT&T Stadium, as he likely doesn’t have enough time to learn a new playbook. But Flores cracked the door for him to contribute, at least on a limited basis, which will be heavily dependant on Charlton’s acclimation ability.
“It would be a tough thing to do, obviously,” Flores said, via The Athletic. “He wants to play. … Hopefully if we can get him up to speed, then maybe.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL