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Cowboys vs Steelers By The Numbers

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Dallas Cowboys Pittsburgh Steelers

The Cowboys are now faced with their most difficult portion of the 2008 schedule. If you have been listening to the national and local media I am sure you have heard that Dallas has no chance of winning this game! Most claim that Pittsburgh is just far too superior of a team to lose at home in December to the Cowboys. I must admit that Pittsburgh has an excellent team, but they are by no means unbeatable! I can even show you that they may be the Dallas of the north.

I keep hearing about how good Pittsburgh is! I believe and the numbers will show that Pittsburgh has the best defense in the league, but after that they have not shown much. When I began my research on this game I wanted to be as unbiased as possible. So I decided to look at the last five games from both teams, comparing opponent win/loss records, rush/pass yards both for and against, turnovers both for and against, sacks for and against. I then looked at scoring averages over the year, splitting them up into wins versus losses. I also looked at their season total numbers. I did all of these things to see if I could figure out exactly what happens to cause these teams to lose, and if there is a difference between the two teams. What I found was that I no longer am as concerned as I was about being able to win this game. This is a very winnable game!

First of all the notion that Dallas is winning because they have not played anyone is absolutely ridiculous. In the last 5 games Dallas went 4-1; Pittsburgh also went 4-1. Dallas played two teams below .500 records (49ers, Seattle), Pittsburgh played two as well (Chargers, Bengals). Pittsburgh’s loss came to a 5-4 Colts team, while Dallas fell to a 7-1 Giants team. I might add the only Dallas loss was without Tony Romo! The combined records of the Steelers last 5 opponents was 23-27, while the Cowboys opponents were 23-26. As far as this blogger is concerned these two teams are dead equal when it comes to strength of schedule! If we were the BCS Dallas would be ranked ahead of Pittsburgh as their one loss was to the #1 team on the road, while Pittsburgh lost at home to a lesser team.

Now let’s look at each team’s defense over the last five. Dallas has given up on an average 89.2 yards per game on the ground, while Pittsburgh has given up 70.6. Edge Pittsburgh
Dallas has given up on an average 225.4 passing yards per game, while Pittsburgh has given up 189.4.

Edge Pittsburgh

In the creating pressure (sacks) category Dallas has averaged 3.8 sacks per game, while Pittsburgh has averaged 3.4 sacks per game.

Edge slightly towards Dallas but really close to even

In the turnover Category Dallas has averaged 1.8 turnovers per game, while Pittsburgh has averaged 2.0 per game.

Edge slightly towards Pitt but really close to even

Now in these five games what was the scoring difference you ask? Well in these 5 games the Cowboys allowed 17 points per game average, Pittsburgh allowed 13.2 points per game average.

Edge Pittsburgh but much closer than anyone thought!

The third quarter though is where Pittsburgh’s defense really clamps down, over the last 5 games they have averaged allowing only 0.6 points in that quarter! WOW! Through all the other quarters Dallas’s defense holds their opponents at the same rate the Steelers do. This will be a key area to keep an eye on come Sunday.

On the offensive side of the ball the Cowboys have been running it on average of 91.6 yards per game, while Pitt averages 105 yards per game ( I would like to note that they rushed for only 55 yards against the worst rush defense in the league in the Colts).

Edge slightly to Pitt only because they have two quality running backs and Dallas does not know what it has yet with Tashard Choice

Dallas has averaged 225.2 yards per game passing (2 of these games was with Captain Ass Bag, since Romo has returned this ave. is now 290 ypg) while Pitt has averaged 238.6 per game.

Edge Dallas and it is not even close since the return of Romo, without Romo it is Pitt all the way. Fortunately Romo will be playing Sunday!

In the turnover category Dallas has averaged 1.6 per game (once again half of their turnovers were without Romo this average drops to 1.3 with Romo) Pitt has averaged 1.2 per game.

Edge Even

Sacks allowed Dallas has averaged 1.6 per game (have only allowed 1 sack since the return of Romo for an avg. of .3 per game) Pitt has allowed 2.4 per game (5 in the last 3 weeks for an average of 1.66 per game) on the year Dallas has allowed only 18 with Pitt allowing 36. Watch this very closely Sunday!

Edge Heavily in Dallas’s favor

Scoring over the last 5 Dallas is averaging 22.0 points per game (27.6 since Romo’s return) Pitt is averaging 22.8 over the last 5 (23.6 over the last 3).

Edge Dallas too much Romo

To take this scoring thing a little bit further lets look at what each team has done in their wins versus their losses:

  • Dallas, in the 8 wins they have avg. 27.9 ppg while allowing 16.9 ppg
  • Dallas in their 4 losses has avg. 19.0 ppg while allowing 31.5 ppg
  • Pitt in their 9 wins has avg. 25.4 ppg while allowing 12.2 ppg
  • Pitt in their 3 losses has avg. 13.3 ppg while allowing 20.0 ppg

I could go on and on with this all day long but I am sure you are all tired of looking at all of this. The point I am trying to make here is that Pittsburgh and Dallas are two of the most evenly matched teams. Dallas’s strength lies with the Big O and Pittsburgh’s strength lies with the Defense. At no point during my research have I seen anything that tells me Dallas cannot win and that Pittsburgh is superior. The keys of the game will be the following not necessarily in this order:

Offense:

  1. Protect Romo
  2. Force their LB’s to cover
  3. Score early and often
  4. Limit stupid Turnovers
  5. Spread them out create mismatches

Defense:

  1. Contain Parker and Moore
  2. Pressure, Pressure, and more Pressure
  3. Put Big Ben in 3rd and long situations
  4. Mix up coverage’s
  5. Enjoy the moment and have fun

I hope I have proven to all you Cowboy fans that this team is good enough to win on Sunday, and that Pittsburgh is nothing to be scared of! Also keep an eye out over the next day or so as there will be another installment of the 5 question preview coming!

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18 Comments
  • Anonymous

    Like any Homer you skewed with and without Romo. Since injuries on a games lost by starters was greatest by the Steelers than any other team up to last game, one might want to asterisk all of your stats particularly on the O side.Once you’ve done that, you may reconsider your conclusions. Every NFL “fan” believes that his team was negatively effected by injuries. Of course, they rarely take a peak at how the injuries might have effected the opposition, except for the injury report right before game day.

  • Anonymous

    I like how you post that anonymously, obviously a scared Steelers fan.

  • Anonymous

    I did not skew because I also gave the numbers for the Steelers during the same time frame! I also understand that every team is full of banged up players, but can you please tell me who the steelers were without that means as much to their team as Romo does to the Cowboys,and dont say Big Ben because they played better with Leftwich in the game!

  • Anonymous

    Regarding that last comment (the post’s author)2x Pro Bowler Willie Parker (easily a better RB than Romo is a QB)D Starter Brett KeiselO Starter Marvel SmithD Starter Bryant McFaddenO 1st round draft choice Rashard MendenhallD Starter Casey HamptonNot counting O Starter Santonio Holmes’ 1 game team-issued suspension.I know you’re a homer, as am I, but saying the Steelers have lost no one of Romo’s value is incredible. That’s 2 defensive line starters, at least 2 O Line starters at different points in the season, the top two RBs on the depth chart coming into the season, and potential game-changing WRs and DBs. WITH the hardest schedule in the past quarter century, this team sits at 9-3.Romo is overrated more than any Cowboys fan is willing to admit. I know the team was better with him than without him this year, but in his career, he’s done nothing more than put up gaudy numbers in the regular season, only to fall flat when it counts. The guys I’ve listed above, aside from rookie Mendenhall and idiot Holmes, all contributed…MAJORLY…into a Super Bowl win. If we want to use my skewed ideas, Romo is nothing more than Carson Palmer.You can take skewed sample sizes and compare stats, but you still end up with a 9-3, division leading team at home in their element against an 8-4 team who isn’t even in their conference’s wildcard discussion yet.Justifying, in your own mind, how close the teams really are doesn’t make much of a difference as to what’s going to happen on Sunday. Sure, I want my team to win, but I’m not gonna blaspheme and say our O is comparable to yours, or that your D is anywhere near as good as ours. They’re two different teams that do different things well.

  • Anonymous

    One last thinghttp://www.nfl.com/stats/teamPittsburgh is #1 in total defense, pass defense AND rush defense per game. Dallas isn’t in the top 5 in either of those categories, on BOTH offense AND defense.Sure, you guys have played better the past few games, but until you are able to do it all season, even with injuries like we have, there’s no reason to compare such a small sample.

  • Anonymous

    What exactly has Willie Parker done? The guy had one good year and gets hurt ever 15 minutes! Hell Moore is a better back than Mendenhall ever thought about being, so why are you complaining? And like I said every team is banged up! I guess Dallas does not get any credit for playing all year without a top O lineman,QB,WR’s,Corners, starting safety (even though I can’t stand him)first round draft pick Felix Jones,and a whole list of other Contributing players! and just so you know the Steeler schedule while I agree is tough it is not quite the gauntlet you portray it to be (combined records of all teams on schedule 76-62-1 oh by the way 1-2 against NFC East). As far as Romo goes we will just see how overrated he is on sunday! Unlike the turnover machine you have in Pittsburgh “Big Ben” Romo IS a top 5 QB! And if that makes him overated then yes he is overrated!

  • Anonymous

    Dude…quit flipping everything so it meets your “argument.”In the past three season as the starter, Willie has missed one game. In all three seasons, he topped 1200 yards rushing. All while helping the Steelers win a Super Bowl. Now I ask you, what has Romo done? Please, anything that resembles that, I’d be happy to hear.Willie got hurt at the beginning of the year. If you were a knowledgable football fan, youd know that injuries beget injuries. One tweaked knee, or shoulder, and the body slows down and takes hits that it wouldnt necessarily take. This year is the exception, not the rule, for Willie. Quit regurgetating the caca that the media spews.My response listing our contributing players injured was to your comment that the Steelers lost no one of Romo’s level. Bullshit. That’s the quintessesntial homer bullshit argument.Coming into the season, the schedule was the toughest in 25 years. That’s fact. Quit bringing your pathetic “opinion” into solid fact. It makes you look uneducated.I never called Romo bad, just overrated. Until he does anything in this league, he’s Carson Palmer with a star on his helmet. How’s that worked out for Cincy to this point. Good regular season stats, no postseason wins to speak of. Hell, no postseason ACCOMPLISHMENTS to speak of.And don’t shit on Big Ben until Romo has a ring. I can give a flying fuck about what Romo does from weeks 1-17.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, Willie has missed TWO games the previous 3 seasons. Not exactly the injury-prone douche you make him out to be

  • Anonymous

    Evidently you did not comprehend anything written! The whole basis was to look at the last 5 games for BOTH teams! The main figure of our team has been out and this team struggled badly without him, You would understand the Dilemma we were in if Brad Johnson was your backup instead Leftwich! I was trying to give both teams the benefit of the doubt. I by no means was stating Dallas’s defense was as good as Pittsburgh’s just showing that they have made strides. How do you even compare Parker a RB to ANY QB much less Romo? The QB position is the most valuable position on the offensive side of the ball! And the reference to Pitts weakness being the secondary, that does not say they are weak only that “If they have a weakness” against the Cowboys it will be in the secondary.Damn I thought I handed out some good compliments to the Steelers.

  • Anonymous

    Dude! You are the one who looks more like a homer! Would you feel better if this COWBOY site Wrote “The Steelers are the greatest team to ever play the game” does that make you feel better? While my views of my team may be biased I can promise you yours are over the freakin top! The records of your opponents before the year starts are irrelevant the only records that matter are the ones of today!And of the 12 games Pitt and Dallas both have played 6 of them were against losing record teams! and i would gladly trade you 4 games a year against the Redskins and Eagles for 4 games against the Browns and Bengals!

  • Anonymous

    @ Tecmo:Here are some season stats for you to soak in. Keep in mind Romo has missed 3 games this season.Big Head Ben: Comp %- 60.6TD’s-13INT- 12Passer Rating- 80.0Romo:Comp %- 64.0TD’s- 21INT- 8Passer Rating- 103.2

  • Anonymous

    Anon – http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08338/932282-66.stmRead about other pass-first QBs that the Steelers have dominated this year. Including two from your vaunted NFC East. Like I said above, who gives a shit about what Romo does weeks 1-17. Brady threw 50 TDs last year…no ring outta it. Again, please show me what Romo has done other than put up gaudy numbers and crumble under pressure. Nobody’s done that yet. Because there’s nothing to speak of.bags – I’m not trying to be a dick, but I clearly stated in my first comment that I’m a homer too. If you don’t want someone giving the opposite side of your skewed story, then close or restrict the comments of your COWBOYS blog. Unless you want a vanilla blog where everyone are sheep saying, “Yeah, this is the most correct and only opinion on this topic.”How can you say a RB is not as important as a QB? Are you really willing to say Emmitt wasn’t more valuable to your team than any one of the revolving door of QBs brought in after Aikman left? Did Quincy Carter win more games when Emmitt was having an off night, or were you more confident when Emmitt had a good night and Quincy, or any of the other hacks brought in, was cold? Romo has done nothing for his team in the postseason, while Willie Parker, in a run-first scheme, has helped his team to two AFC Championship games and one Super Bowl win. That’s how you compare featured players from different teams playing different positions. How many individual records has Romo set in the Super Bowl? None, because he’s never taken his team past the first round, while Willie took a 6 seed on the road and helped them succeed. Willie has yet to LOSE a postseasn game for the Steelers, but Romo has had a big hand in his postseason losses.Is Willie Parker less valable than Ken Dorsey, just because Ken Dorsey’s the starting QB now? Or even Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn when they were healthy?And yes, I did take into account what you wrote in the article. But obviously, YOU didn’t comprehend when in my first comment, I clearly stated that I was calling out the bullshit comment that the Steelers lost no one of Romo’s calibur this year.Yet, everything I mentioned about the story, and your skewed sample size and my own research of our stats versus your stats, you cleverly refused to continue discussing. Its like all you heard was blah blah blah Tony Romo overrated blah blah blah blah STEELERS RULE WOOOOO. What about Dallas not being in the top 5 of any TEAM defense or offense category that I listed? Football is a team sport, not a Romo sport. What he does in comparison to Big Ben in the regular season is moot.I don’t expect you to cave and admit defeat, because I’m not one to do that either. But if you’re gonna write a post with only stats that paint an altered picture, then gotta expect to hear some differing opinion.

  • Anonymous

    I gladly accept different opinion, and thank you for giving it. So to be fare to you and to myself and the readers I have gone and look at Willie Parker and Tony Romo’s post season stats (these were pulled directly from the NFL.com website) and here they are! Willie parker has played in 4 post season games with 57 carries for 225 yards for an avg. of 3.9 with 1 TD and 1 fumble. Tony Romo has played in 2 post season games going 35 of 65 for 390 yards with a completion% of 53.8% with 2 TD and 1 Int. Now I realize that your next comment will be that Romo choked against the giants, and fumbled the field goal snap! these are both viable and I would agree with you. However for you to blow the grand horn on the “greatness” that is Willie Parker and “overrate” Tony Romo the way you have is simply stupid,and ignorant, and warrants you a position on “sportscenter”. Is Tony Romo “the greatest QB ever”? NO not even close! can the Cowboys win without him? NOOOOOO NOT A CHANCE! Is Willie Parker “the greatest ever”? NO not even close! Can the Steelers win without him? YES WITHOUT A DOUBT! This is the point I was making that you completely missed. I also understand that the Cowboys are “not in the top 5” of either off. or def. I never said they were! I will also continue to speak to you about any stat you wish to speak about the numbers are the numbers and they do not lie! Our team and your team at this specific moment in time are similar in a lot of ways, all I was trying to do was to inform Cowboy fans that the Steelers of 2008 at this particular point in the year are a beatable team for us, that does not say nor did i ever say that Dallas “will punish them cause they are not any good”. You are also correct in saying “Football is a team sport” but how can you say that one minute and then state ” How many individual records has Romo set in the Super Bowl? None, because he’s never taken his team past the first round, while Willie took a 6 seed on the road and helped them succeed.” If I remember correctly did you or did you not also have a soon to be Hall of Fame caliber RB playing with him? If you are going to bring in all this Post season talk I think you would be better served by looking at not only Romo and Parker’s stats but to also look at who was playing with them, after all this is a “Team sport”and last but not least, you asked this question “How can you say a RB is not as important as a QB?” and i believe i have already defined this earlier in this comment but just so we understand one another one more time. The following statement that I made is not an opinion it is the truth, I dont care who you ask who knows anything about football, “The QB position is the most valuable position on the offensive side of the ball!” You can have the greatest running back of all time, but if you do not have a Qaurterback that can “manage the game” you have absolutely no shot! just ask Walter Payton, Barry Sanders,the Chicago Bears… shall i go on? It is not a slap at Willie Parker nor is it meant to build up Tony Romo, it is a absolute True statement and me telling you that to compare Willie to Romo is STUPID! and as i said earlier your “Team” can win without Parker My “Team” cannot! I will never back down from what I understand to be the truth and until you can bring some good hardcore evidence to prove me wrong I will not back down this time! I have no hard feelings and have enjoyed someone argue for their team, that is what makes this all worth while.So what you got for me now?

  • Anonymous

    Also I read the good article you left as well. Anon – http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08338/932282-66.stmand See that you and the writer of that article grabbed only the "numbers that fit your agument" you know the ones where the Steelers defense has killed all the passer rating QB's,unfortunately for you your own coach says in the article that Romo does things that those other QBS do not and thats what makes him different! And come on man! you guys want to compare Rivers,Campbell,and Matt F@#&in Cassell to Romo? and he so cleverly decided not to mention what Eli Mannings QB rating was in that game, only to say it was not what it was coming in! Just so you know his QB rating in that game was 87.9 down from 91.0 WOW You guys killed him that game! Also FYI Cleveland held manning to 57.1 2 weeks previous and San Fran held him to 77.5.Nice try though!

  • Anonymous

    Um…we went to an AFC Championship game with Kordell Stewart and a SB with Neil O’Donnell (sure you remember that one). Baltimore won a SB with a defense and no QB.Last year, Willie broke his leg in game 15, and we couldn’t run the ball for shit in the final game or the playoffs (both losses). That’s why we drafted Mendenhall and brought in Moore. Running is as essential (if not moreso) to our team than passing is to yours. Even with no QB, you can still hand the ball to Barber and throw short passes to one of the top 3 WRs of all time. You can’t have it both ways by saying Willie had Bettis helping him, but not look at the weapons that should still be helping the team in Romo’s absence. That Post Gazete article was for the idiot anonymous dude that somehow was trying to compare Ben to Romo. That was stupid and made no sense whatsoever.I’m not trying to hate on you, just saying (regarding the article) that you can make any argument work with such small samples. Let’s look at the past game, and we have a Steelers defense dominating Cassel in every aspect, and we have a Cowboys offense that was clicking. That would show that the teams might be in for a struggle, too, until you realize that over 12 games, the Steelers have yet to allow 300 yards of total offense while the Cowboys have had ups and downs (even with Romo in). I just have a problem with such small samples used to justify a point

  • Anonymous

    Would you not say that Kordell, Neil,and Trent Dilfer although not great QBS “managed the game” pretty well? I just looked at the 2000 Ravens team numbers and they had a total of 19 turnovers for the year! the freakin Year! I agree with you your “team” is built around running the football ours is built around the passing game. So answer this question for me, Do you believe the Steelers could win 75% of their games remaining without Willie Parker? So that we are clear that article was not written to argue how great the Cowboys are, merely written to show how I feel the Cowboys can play with the Steelers and win! You took my writing way out of context. I have to assume thru this that I did a poor job of expressing myself, and I will keep this in mind whenever I do another such article.

  • Anonymous

    It wasn’t me not following your story, it was me commenting on your original comment, which somehow turned into Willie Parker v Tony Romo.I’d be happy if we won 75% of out remaining games (3 of the final 4) even WITH Willie in the lineup. Not only do we play a good Cowboys team, but also the Titans D and the Ravens D. Both teams provide ample pass rushes and are good at stopping the run, so I’d be a lying homer if I said we could, or should win 3 of 4 without Willie.That’s what our problem was at the end of last year. Lose Willie for the year, and we went 0-2 because we couldn’t run the ball. That’s why a RB CAN be as valuable as a QB, especially because teams play different styles.I’m not discounting that Romo is a good QB. I’m not a liar. But even as a Cowboys fan, you have to admit that there’s been a lot of praise on a guy who has done zilch outside of the regular season. We play in the AFC North. We’ve heard every argument that Cowboys fans make for Romo a million times over in the few years that Carson Palmer has been in the league. It’s always “elite QBs Manning, Brady, Palmer and Romo…” We’re tired of hearing it. We hate Brady and Manning as much as the next guy, but at least they’ve done something of substance outside of the regular season. Until Romo exercises his postseason demons, he means very little to me.

  • Anonymous

    Agree to disagree! I am tired!

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts

Jess Haynie

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Matt Eberflus, Sean Lee

Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense.

He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now.

If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position.

Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee.

He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football.

Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season.

Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot.

Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here.

Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to.

It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator.

Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most.

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.

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Dallas Cowboys

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job

Sean Martin

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Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job 1

By keeping all three top coaches (Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli) in place for 2018, there isn’t a Dallas Cowboys coaching hire that feels like they “must” get it right to contend next season. This is how it should be.

Producing nine wins, despite missing key players throughout the season, the Cowboys are changing things up at the position coach level to hopefully introduce new ideas and give the talent on this team a better chance at sustained success.

One coaching vacancy that needs to be filled by the right guy above any else is on the offensive line, where things haven’t been the same since the great Bill Callahan departed.

Frank Pollack took his place, and now finds himself with the Cincinnati Bengals after not being retained by Dallas this offseason.

Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates For Cowboys Vacant OL Coach Job

Tom Cable (Stephen Brashear / Getty Images)

The first name that was thrown around in consideration for the Cowboys job was Tom Cable, which sent a panic throughout Cowboys Nation before Cable decided to sign with John Gruden and the Raiders.

Cable had been coaching the Seahawks’ OL, a position that franchise has not valued in some time, and struggled to develop any talent in protection of their franchise QB Russell Wilson.

Now, two new names have emerged as candidates to coach the likes of two-time 1st Team All-Pro LT Tyron Smith, 1st Team All-Pro C Travis Frederick, and two-time 1st Team All-Pro RG Zack Martin.

Mike Solari and Paul Alexander

Paul Alexander has already met with the Dallas Cowboys, looking for work after 23 seasons with the Bengals. During this time, Alexander served as Marvin Lewis’ assistant head coach, in addition to his duties as their OL coach.

Judging on reactions out of Cincinnati to Alexander’s departure, the Bengals offensive line regressed under him in 2017, warranting change from a franchise that is as reluctant as any to move on from coaches.

Goodberry on Twitter

Paul Alexander better be gone

Most recently, Mike Solari has served as the offensive line coach for the New York Giants — far from a renowned unit around the NFL lately. He does have previous experience with the Cowboys, having served as an assistant OL and special teams coach here from 1987-88.

From 2006-07, Solari did reach the rank of offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, which shows the level of respect that the 30-year NFL coaching veteran has earned.

He will be the Dallas Cowboys’ next interview for their open OL coach position.

Cowboys at Raiders: La'el Collins Faces Toughest Test Yet In Khalil Mack 1

Dallas Cowboys RT La’el Collins, RG Zack Martin

Depth at tackle, a long-term answer at left guard, and an extension for Zack Martin are among the questions facing the Cowboys offensive line moving forward. Whoever is in charge of keeping this unit up to standard in 2018 though, may hold the keys to getting the entirety of the Cowboys’ program back on track.

Whether it’s Alexander, Solari, or another outside candidate yet to emerge, Inside The Star will keep you updated on the Cowboys’ ongoing coaching search.

Tell us what you think about “Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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