Cowboys O-Line Allowed NFL’s Fewest Sacks; Can They Repeat w/o Frederick?

It’s hardly breaking news that the Dallas Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. But as one stat-driven outlet reminded us today just how good the group was last year, it leads to the ongoing speculation of the the Cowboys’ line will perform in 2020 without Travis Frederick at center.

The following tweet from Pro Football Focus shared a delightful nugget about the 2019 Cowboys offensive line:

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The Cowboys passing offense was credited with allowing 23 sacks overall; an excellent number which had them with the 2nd-lowest sacks allowed in the NFL. Based on their analysis, PFF is only attributing eight of those to the offensive line.

The other 15 sacks likely came from a variety of factors. Tight ends and running backs are also involved in pass blocking, and of course the quarterback has a lot to do with it. Some sacks happen because he held the ball too long or moved the wrong way in the pocket.

Clearly, though, Dallas is did a great job overall in avoiding sacks on Dak Prescott. But with All-Pro center Travis Frederick’s retirement this offseason, can they maintain that same performance in 2020?

The good news is that the Frederick of 2019 wasn’t the same player we knew from 2013-2017. He was still very solid, but even Travis admitted he wasn’t playing up to his usual standard. So replacing Frederick isn’t quite as daunting as it was a few years ago.

The Cowboys have some good options there in veteran Joe Looney and young prospects Connor McGovern and Tyler Biadasz. Among those three, somebody should emerge who can keep the line solvent and competitive.

Additionally, we’re hoping on 3rd-year improvement from Left Guard Connor Williams. If we get the expected growth at that position while still having the great Zack Martin on the other side, whoever plays center in 2020 is going to be well supported.

Protecting the quarterback is a hallmark of just about any playoff contending team. The Dallas Cowboys have been on of the league’s best at it for a while now, and hopefully their offensive line changes won’t lessen that advantage this season.

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Jess Haynie

Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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  1. Its easy to see an OL be diminished when it once set the bar as high as it did in 2016. But this line is still top tier and capable of dominating a line of scrimmage. In their favor for this season is a new offensive system that should (by all hopes) be more diverse and put a defense a little more on their heels, and be far less predicable. That alone should help. That being said, this line does have a little something to prove on those obvious 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 runs, as well as in the red zone running game. If they can get back to form in that regard (easier said than done w/o Fredericks), they should remain in the top-5 lines and maybe extend the string of 3 of them getting to a Pro Bowl. More play-action and/or rollouts can help keep the sack numbers down, and if Dak can become a decent rhythm passer, even the better. Smith’s help is always a concern, but as long as he’s only missing a game here and a game there … that’s not enough of an excuse.

  2. 2nd fewest sacks in the NFL I’m a little surprised at that stat. Even though Frederick wasn’t himself last yr he still made the calls on the line and was still effective using his experience and guile, so we take a hit there. Hopefully with another yr experience Dak develops better pocket presence, stops running into sacks and does better job at throwing the ball away when needed. I tend to think pocket presence is somewhat of an inate gift but can still be improved upon with experience.

  3. I know it’s not popular to beat up on the sick guy but Travis did not play “solid” in 2019. His last good year was 2016 in fact, and he was only kept in the league by momentum, holdover reputation from when he played well, and charity. I know that’s harsh but it’s a big boy’s game. Someone else, maybe a rookie that gave up on pro football, had to stay home while he remained in the league. But specifically:
    He was fully responsible for more hurries and more sacks than anyone else on the OL in 2019;
    and … AND ….
    when he did not have guard help, he failed to contain his man on 80% of downs.
    This is all on film. You won’t prove me wrong.
    Look, he deserves a courage award. He deserves a wounded warrior award. But a spit-ton of cap space has been incinerated since 2016 by allowing him to play. Let’s all weep for him becoming sick and having to retire young; but don’t fret THAT much over the tens of millions of dollars he made to tide him over the pain. And once again, money that could have been spent on the team.

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