The 2014 Dallas Cowboys offensive line had the strongest performance of any unit on the team. Good enough to support the league’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray, on his way to over 1,800 yards. Their performance reminded many people of the 1990’s Cowboys offensive line and their dominance on the way to 3 Super Bowl victories.
The two names that always seemed to get overlooked were right tackles Doug Free & Jermey Parnell.
Doug Free started the season at right tackle and played extremely well. He was playing at a top-level before a week 6 injury in the victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
Jermey Parnell came in on the next play of that game and helped open a hole for DeMarco Murray to reach pay dirt – Touchdown Cowboys. From that point on, Jermey Parnell played well whenever he was asked to step in for Free.
Landon McCool – who hosts the Blogging the Boys podcast – shared some information with me on how both Free and Parnell graded out in the PFF rankings. (By the way you can follow Landon on twitter @McCoolBTB )
Overall, Parnell seemed to grade out higher than Free.
I don’t like PFF ratings.
I think there are entirely too many flaws with their system, especially for the offensive line. I’m more old school and use the ole eye test to tell me who is playing well, or not so well. Both players had good seasons, and now both players are free agents. So…. Who do you keep?
You have Parnell, who has youth on his side and a tremendous amount of athleticism. He’s okay in pass protection but better in run blocking. He’s proven that he can play in the big games against some big time pass rushers and hold his own. But he often seemed to lose focus during games and it took him a while to get things going again.
Free is a little older but he still has plenty of athleticism to get the job done. Before he was hurt, he was playing as good as any right tackle in the league. But what Free brought to the table was leadership for the offensive line and he helped rookie sensation Zach Martin transition from left tackle in college to right guard in the NFL.
Both players are well liked by the team and around the league. Bill Callahan, the new offensive line coach for the Redskins, said Parnell could start for just about any team in the league. While Jason Garrett has said he would love to have both players back.
But chatter around Valley Ranch is that the team could end up signing Doug Free to a 2 or 3 year deal and look to the draft to find an upgrade/replacement for Parnell to be the eventual starter.
This very well could mean Free will retire a Cowboy, and owner Jerry Jones selects another offensive lineman early in the draft.
With the start of free agency looming just a few days away, this is one of the many questions that have to be answered by the Dallas Cowboys. And perhaps choosing which right tackle to go with is one of the bigger decisions that has to be made.