The Dallas Cowboys have established a philosophy the last half-decade of controlling games by running the football behind a powerful offensive line. All-Pros Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick have been the anchors of this unit collectively since 2014 and have established a reputation of being one of if not the best of it’s kind in the NFL.
Almost a month ago in New Orleans against the Saints on Sunday Night Football, the Cowboys offensive line was absolutely dominated in the trenches. All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott only managed to gain 35 yards on 18 carries, less than two yards per attempt. With this performance in a big stage game, the rumblings began of whether this unit had fallen off the map. However, the last three games have been a reminder of how this unit can still be dominant and take over ball games.
Many will look at the highlights of the Cowboys 34-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers in Week 5 and say there’s no way the offensive line could’ve played well, but they’d be wrong. The Cowboys moved the ball well against the Packers their first three possessions as each had them within field goal range. Unfortunately, two of them ended with interceptions by Dak Prescott and the other was derailed by a sack on third down. They quickly fell behind multiple scores and could never recover.
If you really break it down, though, you’ll see how effective the offensive line was. Elliott averaged 5.2 yards per rush and rookie Tony Pollard averaged 4.8 yards on his attempts. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup both had over 100 yards receiving and Prescott had a career-high 463 yards passing. This was all due to the protection of the offensive line. If not for turnovers the Cowboys would have produced even more yardage and scored more points because the offensive line actually played well.
Against the New York Jets a week later, the Cowboys got off to another slow start and found themselves behind 21-6 at halftime. In the second half, however, they rode the coattails of Elliott and the offensive line. He had 18 of his 28 carries and 71 of his 105 yards after halftime. The Cowboys played bully ball and almost pulled off a comeback win but fell short 24-22. This was another example of how this unit can take over ball games when need be.
This past Sunday against the arch-rival Philadelphia Eagles in a battle for first place in the NFC East the Cowboys offensive line took the soul right from the Eagles defensive front seven. Elliott and Pollard combined for 139 yards (Elliott 111, Pollard 28) on 30 carries while the entire team gained 189 yards on 36 carries and controlled the ball for over 32 minutes in a blowout 37-10 victory. This was a vintage performance by the offensive line and one of their best showings of the 2019 season.
Now, the Cowboys head into their bye week coming off a dominant performance from the unit they rely on the most. It couldn’t come at a better time as they can get a few guys fully healthy for the second half of the season along their offensive front. They’ll need them more than ever as the month of November presents a lot of challenges for them with three of the top six defenses currently in the NFL waiting for them, and three of their five games on the road during that stretch.