Es seguro decir que los Cowboys tienen su mayor fortaleza en su línea ofensiva. Es simple y sencillamente, una unidad de elite. Por muchos es considerada una de las mejores en toda la NFL actualmente.
Sin embargo, la página de Pro Football Focus publicó una clasificación de las líneas ofensivas en la liga, y los Cowboys aparecieron relativamente abajo. Una línea que por muchos es considerada la mejor, o por lo menos dentro de las tres o cinco mejores, obtuvo apenas el noveno lugar.
Esto me dejo bastante sorprendido, pues siempre vemos a la unidad de los Cowboys como una de las mejores (a veces como la mejor) entre los 32 equipos de la NFL. Justo como debería de ser.
Pero, ¿por qué cayó hasta el noveno lugar?
Dos Puestos Abiertos
El año pasado Ron Leary y Doug Free eran titulares de esta gran unidad. En el 2017, ninguno de los dos estará vistiendo la estrella. Leary usará un bronco en el casco, y Free disfrutará su retiro en casa.
Mientras tres de los cinco puestos estén ocupados por jugadores All-Pro, quedan dos en disputa entre varios jugadores.
La'el Collins seguramente obtendrá uno de estos dos puestos. Se sabe que los Cowboys lo han estado probando especialmente como un RT. Collins no tiene un trabajo tan fácil. A pesar de que sea uno de los favoritos de los aficionados, no hemos visto literalmente nada de La'el como tackle en la NFL.
Sin la menor duda, tiene el físico necesario para esta posición y todo el potencial de hacer un buen papel.
El otro puesto, el de guardia izquierdo, se lo pelearán jugadores como Chaz Green, Byron Bell y Emmett Cleary. Claro, cabe la posibilidad de que Collins vuelva a este puesto como era el plan original.
¿Serán Estos Cambios Dañinos Para los Cowboys?
La'el Collins es un excelente prospecto. Su nivel de juego como guardia izquierdo fue muy bueno. Incluso, en lo personal, me gustaría más verlo como LG y así dejar el puesto de RT como la única preocupación en la ofensiva.
Doug Free era un mejor jugador de lo que muchos aficionados le daban crédito, pero nunca estuvo en el nivel de sus compañeros. Remplazarlo no será fácil, pero no será imposible. Remplazar a Ron Leary me parece un poco más complicado.
Leary es un jugador de calidad que quizá el único jugador que hubiera podido tomar su lugar sin que se sintiera como una baja en la posición es La'el Collins.
Cuando el Training Camp tome lugar este 24 de Julio, los Cowboys podrán ver a sus jugadores más de cerca y tomar una decisión cuando ya estén equipados.
Así que, claro, tenemos unas dudas en la línea ofensiva, pero ¿qué hay del trío de jugadores de primer nivel que tienen los Cowboys.
Tyron Smith es discutiblemente el mejor tackle de toda la NFL. Ahora, entiendo que se pude hacer un argumento a favor de Joe Thomas, o de Jason Peters.
Realmente creo que no hay nadie como Tyron. Nadie tiene ese físico, ese talento y ese dominio de técnica que tiene Smith. Hay muchos LTs excelentes en la liga.
Me parece aún más difícil considerar que hay un mejor centro que Travis Frederick. Incluso es justo discutir que el valor de Frederick para el equipo sea más grande que el de Tyron.
No es muy común tener a un centro como el número 72.
No sólo es lo grandioso de Tyron Smith, ni lo grandioso de Travis Frederick, sino que tenemos también a probablemente el mejor guardia de la NFL, Zack Martin.
En una liga donde el valor de los guardias cada vez es más grande para las ofensivas, Martin es fundamental para el éxito de este equipo, y sin duda recibirá una extensión millonaria próximamente.
Esta Línea Tiene el Potencial de Ser la Mejor en la Liga
Concederé un punto. Por la incertidumbre de los dos puestos que no tienen a un jugador seguro como titular (LG y RT), accederé a decir que es justo decir que la línea ofensiva de Dallas no es la número uno.
Realmente creo que está entre las mejores tres, y creo que en algún punto de la temporada volverán a ser la mejor.
Sea quien sea el RT, estará jugando enseguida de Martin y Frederick. Sea quien sea el LG, estará jugando entre Smith y Frederick. Esto funcionará. El talento de Collins será por lo menos bueno, con potencial de ser excelente.
Esta unidad sigue siendo excelente aún con las dos bajas que sufrió. Y con una ofensiva con Dak, Zeke, Dez y Beasley... vaya que tendrán apoyo.
¿Qué opinas de la línea ofensiva de los Cowboys?
How Should The Cowboys, And The NFL, Value RBs?
There is no one, stand-alone "best" strategy for winning in the NFL. There are, of course, common themes and ideals which run true year in and year out among the top teams.
Strategy in the NFL is dynamic, or at least it should be. Running in place for too long under the same leadership often breeds mediocrity, and refusing to move with current trends can put you at a severe disadvantage.
Succumbing to those trends without fully analyzing the confounding factors your situation presents, however, can also ruin a team building exercise.
With that being said, should teams pay elite running backs top dollar? Or are those running backs expendable, replaceable, and often forgettable within the NFL machine?
To be honest these aren't very fair ways to pose legitimately interesting questions. You can acknowledge that a running back is important to your offense while also acknowledging that you don't want to break the bank for a position with such injury risk and high turnover year-to-year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently facing this dilemma, as their star running back Le'Veon Bell asks to be paid like an elite "weapon," not as a normal running back. And when you examine how the Steelers deploy Bell within their offense, he clearly has a point.
Bell is not your traditional "running back." He lines up on the boundary, in the slot, and is a passing threat out of the backfield as well. On top of all of this versatility, Bell is an excellent pass protector, something which is often lost among other "versatile" backs.
Bell can quite literally do it all for an offense, but the idea of paying that position elite-level money makes teams cringe. As The Athletic's Marcus Mosher pointed out on Twitter, teams like the New England Patriots have been able to replicate Bell's production by using multiple speciality backs rather than one workhorse.
In theory, this takes away the injury risk component to a certain extent. Rather than giving one player 350-400 touches per season, you spread those touches out and allow for players to do what they do best.
Lately, the NFL has seemed to agree that this is the most efficient way to play offense. But when you have a player like Bell or Ezekiel Elliott, in what way is taking the ball out of their hands "efficient" at all? In addition, how is using three players to mimic the skill set of one efficient?
Yes, the NFL is a passing league, but when you have a playmaker who is of the caliber of a Bell or an Elliott, it is up to the offense to deploy in him ways that maximize his value. Teams should be using the Bells and Elliotts of the world as pass catching threats and as weapons all over the field. Force the entire defense to account for your running back rather than just jamming him between the tackles like it's 1975.
The movement towards "running back by committee" rather than the traditional one-back system can also be credited to the lack of workhorse-worthy backs entering the league.
Ezekiel Elliotts don't grow on trees, they are rare and special players. And when you have one, especially when you spend a premium pick on him, you should get the most out of him that you can. Playing winning offense in the NFL is about more than just "do you run or do you pass," and it often hinges on creating splash plays of 15-20 yards.
If you can get those plays through the use of an elite running back, that player becomes intrinsically valuable to your team. No matter what "position" he is labeled as. Of course you want to be able create mismatches in the passing game all over the field, so when you are able to do this with a running back, shouldn't that be deemed as highly valuable?
We can't say just yet if the Cowboys should re-sign Ezekiel Elliott once he enters free agency. After all, five seasons (and a franchise tag year) where he touches the ball more than most players in the league will almost certainly bring about some wear and tear.
But with the way the Cowboys have chosen to play offense, and the way in which they've built their roster, a workhorse back like Elliott is necessary for success.
Once again, at least it is for now.
Is DE Kony Ealy At Risk Of Not Making Cowboys Final Roster?
As training camp approaches and we draw closer to the 2018 NFL season, fans are beginning to get excited for new faces, old stars, and new beginnings for the Dallas Cowboys.
One player which has been a bit forgotten about over the last few months, and even overlooked when he was first signed back in April, is defensive end Kony Ealy. Of course, some of this overlooking is justified, as Ealy's career has been filled with more valleys than peaks thus far.
With a fresh start in Dallas, though, some expect Kony Ealy to rekindle his career, and look like the player he was during the Panthers' Super Bowl 50 loss just a few seasons ago. The problem is, that game looks like the outlier and not the norm over his professional career.
Originally drafted by the Carolina Panthers, Ealy has had a shaky start to his career. Now joining his third team in the same number of seasons, it's certainly fair to say he hasn't lived up to his second round draft selection.
At 6'4" and 275 pounds, however, Ealy fits the mold of a 4-3 defensive end in the Cowboys' scheme. While he isn't the explosive pass rusher that other players on the roster are (and can be), he could provide solid rotational depth across the defensive line.
With fellow former second round pick Randy Gregory gaining reinstatement to the NFL this week, Ealy could struggle to salvage any real playing time with the Cowboys at all. Gregory, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, and Taco Charlton all feel like locks to make the team.
Then there is 2018 day three pick Dorance Armstrong and former fourth round pick Charles Tapper providing competition as well.
Tapper and Armstrong are unproven, but have the athletic profiles to become solid edge rushers at the professional level. For both, especially Tapper, health is of the upmost concern going forward. If Tapper can remain healthy, he has a real shot of making the team and having his impact felt as early as 2018.
That "if" has been a serious one thus far, however.
When the Cowboys first signed Kony Ealy back in April, I really believed he could provide solid and cheap depth along their defensive line. Now in July, I still have those beliefs, but it's become fair to question if he will even find himself on the final 53-man roster based on the competition around him.
Can Connor Williams Follow in Zack Martin’s Footsteps?
Connor Williams has yet to play a single snap the NFL, but there are already some pretty high expectations for the rookie Guard. That's because he will be sandwiched between two Pro Bowl players in Center Travis Frederick and Left Tackle Tyron Smith. But, it's the Dallas Cowboys third Pro Bowl offensive lineman Williams should try to emulate and follow in the footsteps of.
Yes, I'm talking about Zack Martin.
Zack Martin's career couldn't have gotten off to a better start coming out of Notre Dame. He hit the ground running as a rookie with the Cowboys and put together a dominating performance his first year in the NFL, earning his first Pro Bowl bid as well as being named to the All-Pro team. He continued to play at a high level ever since and has not only turned into the best player at his position, but continued his Pro Bowl streak every season since entering the league.
To ask, or even expect Connor Williams to have the same kind of immediate success as Zack Martin is probably a little unfair, if not impossible. The kind of success Martin has had already in his career is almost unheard of. But, that's not to say Williams isn't going to try to follow in Martin's footsteps and to become the best player he can.
The footsteps I think Connor Williams should try to follow as it pertains to Zack Martin is how well he made the transition from a collegiate Offensive Tackle to an NFL Guard. I think that should be Williams' main focus right now with training camp coming up.
Williams will be inserted into the starting lineup as the Cowboys new Left Guard. It will be a new position for him after playing mainly Tackle at the University of Texas, that will require an entirely new mindset and technique. But, it's in transition I believe he can make rather smoothly.
Connor Williams should benefit from Zack Martin's similar transition from college OT to an NFL OG. I wouldn't be surprised if we see the rookie shadowing Martin throughout training camp to soak up as much knowledge as possible. It's probably the best way for him to jumpstart his career.
Now, I fully expect to see some growing pains from Williams throughout the 2018 season. It's to be expected from any rookie, especially one transitioning to a new position. But, I do believe he will not only be an upgrade at LG for the Cowboys, but will make the entire OL even better.
I don't know about you, but I'm excited to see what kind of player Connor Williams ends up being this season.
Do you think Connor Williams can follow in Zack Martin's footsteps?
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