Tyron Smith, Ron Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Doug Free. These 5 Men make up the starting offensive line for the Dallas Cowboys and it's the same 5 starters from the historic offensive line of the 2014 season.
So what's the difference?
The easy answer is nothing, as the Cowboys are still averaging over 100 yards rushing per game, and have only given up 8 sacks this season. However, we all know when we watch the games that it doesn't look anywhere near the same.
The Cowboys offense is not running the ball with the same consistency and power they portrayed last season. While everyone wants to point to losing DeMarco Murray, I don't believe that is the case.
In this game against the Saints, the Cowboys' tight ends and receivers struggled blocking at the point of the attack. Even Written, one of the game's best, struggled this past Sunday. On a crucial 3rd and 1 play, Witten is down blocking the DE and allows him to spin away and get in position to make the tackle for a loss of 1.
As an offense dealing with 8 and 9 man boxes regularly you can not afford to lose at the point of attack.
What is happening is that the Running Back is seeing no holes initially, and thus is forced to cut back, the problem with this is because of stacked boxes the offense has to leave the furthest backside player unblocked. Allowing him to charge down the line and is then in position waiting for the cutback, and in most instances stopping him for little or no gain.
In order for the Cowboys to have success running the ball they have to open up the offense and get the extra defender out of the box.
I do not blame the Cowboys failures on the offensive line. While yes, they are not clearing holes big enough for a mack truck like last year, they are consistently winning their one on one battles with the defender across from them. When the line is struggling it is usually the backside of the line; struggling to cut their guy or advance to the second level and secure a linebacker.
I fully expect the Cowboys run game to improve tremendously when Dez Bryant returns to the field.
With the state of the offense currently as it is, no defensive coordinator is scared of our passing game, thus allowing him to stack boxes and blitz regularly. Dez changes the whole dynamic as defenses can no longer put the safety in the box, and now must pull a linebacker out to defend the slants.
I truly believe that the Cowboys rushing game woes will fix itself, sooner rather than later.