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Dallas Cowboys: Moving La’el Collins To RT Is A Mistake

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins

I know I'm going to be in the minority here, but I truly believe moving La'el Collins to right tackle is a mistake by the Dallas Cowboys. They've tried this experiment before when they signed Collins as an undrafted free agent, and determined then his best position was on the inside at guard. So, what has changed since then?

Well, Doug Free decided to hang up his cleats in the off-season, which left a void at the right tackle position. Many Cowboys' fans have openly celebrated Free's retirement, but they may sing a different tune once the 2017 season kicks off.

You see, Doug Free's retirement and Ronald Leary's departure via free agency has now created two open spots on the Cowboys offensive line. Yes, they still have Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin to anchor the OL, but Dallas' coaching staff is having to shuffle things around in order to find the best starting five.

I'm a firm believer that La'el Collins' best position in the NFL is at offensive guard. In fact, if not for the foot injury that wiped out nearly his entire 2016 season, he likely would have been named to his first Pro Bowl. That is why I believe he should be reinserted at left guard immediately.

You simply don't take a potential Pro Bowl caliber player from one position and put them at another one. But, it's starting to look as if that is exactly what the Dallas Cowboys are doing.

I think at best, Collins is probably an average right tackle in the NFL. I'm not even sure if he will be an upgrade over Doug Free. Collins couldn't unseat Free before, but now he's the best option? Does this not concern anyone else?

La'el Collins

(Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

La'el Collins hasn't recorded a single NFL snap at right tackle in his career. But, fans are already sold on him as he starting RT, despite the fact the Dallas Cowboys haven't even put on pads yet. That's a lot of faith to put in someone who has yet to prove much of anything as of yet in the NFL, especially at right tackle.

Whatever the Dallas Cowboys decide to do with La'el Collins will likely shape the success the offense will have in 2017. This decision will impact every facet of how the Cowboys' offense operates. Yes, I believe it is that important.

Collins is the only player on the Cowboys roster who can play left guard and improve the position after Ronald Leary's departure. Anyone else is probably a downgrade, which impacts both the running and passing game.

I just don't really think there is any need for Collins to play RT. There are options available that I believe can play the position just as well. In fact, Chaz Green was drafted to take over for Doug Free. He is likely the best option if he can remain healthy.

I'm hoping that this is just a trial run the Dallas Cowboys are giving La'el Collins and that nothing is set in stone as of yet. I personally don't really like the move, but I understand why others do.

Fortunately, there is still quite a bit of off-season left to work things out. But, I for one am hoping to see La'el Collins lined up between Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith on the left side in 2017. I think it's what is best for not only Collins, but for the entire Cowboys' offense.

Do you agree or disagree?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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18 Comments
  • I’m Okay w La’el @ RT

    Personally, I think this is nothing more than homage to the ‘Versatility Gods’ that the Cowboys seem to worship, at least on the O line. BY TC they will have multiple players that can play both LG & RT to offset the injury bug.

    I don’t share your high opinion of Collins @ LG. He is not better than Leary @ that spot.

    • Brian Martin

      Collins was still developing as a LG. I think he would’ve ended up being better than Leary and been in the Pro Bowl conversation last season if he remained healthy. But, I agree that the Cowboys will have multiple players being looked at in training camp at LG and RT. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Travis Diggs

    I believe even tho we have the best offensive line in the league, it was clear Doug Free was the weak link. So why would us as fans think Collins couldnt do better than him??? We have come accustomed to Chaz green injuries, Cooper was a first round bust, and Bell is fighting just to make weight incentives. Unless Cleary takes over one of the spots, We expect Collins to be the clear cut starter out right

    • Brian Martin

      Travis, I agree with what you said, but I’m not sure Collins is better than Free. I do believe Collins is an upgrade at LG, but now he’s being looked at as the RT. I think the OG spot is more important to the running game and keeping the pocket clean for Prescott to step up and make a throw. I understand the optimism about Collins at RT, but I personally don’t see it.

      • Travis Diggs

        I believe we have one of the best coaching staffs So i think they will put the best 5 guys out there If they believe Collins is well suited for Tackle I trust them. The only reason why he is out there is because of uncertainty of Chaz Green. Come training camp we will know

        • Brian Martin

          Travis, I agree. I think Green’s health will ultimately decide what they do with Collins. Fortunately, there still a lot of off-season left to figure things out.

  • Randy Martin

    Your assertion is misplaced Brian. Your idea that he will not be good at RT assumes that he hit his ceiling his dokie year. You stated they tried it and it didn’t work. Well, let’s not forget he was a deer in the headlights rookie. There was some talk on one of shows that Bryan Broaddus is on before this move was even made that stated he is likely an all-pro guard and an average tackle but over time they seemed to change their time. I choose to believe that he needs reps and snaps, and he is improving physically in what is now his third year and he is more physically and mentally prepared for it. The beauty of OTA’s and training camp and pre-season is so that you can try these type of things and see if it will work. Do you believe that the coaching staff would purposely make a move such as this and leave it in place if they thought it would cause the offense to regress? Collins played tackle in college and I have every confidence he can play it in the NFL. Give it some time my friend. Its not like they can’t move him back to guard if it doesn’t work but based on early indications he has looked pretty good there.

    • Brian Martin

      Randy, I’m not saying that I don’t believe Collins could be a good RT. I just believe that he is a better LG and that it would benefit the Cowboys offense more. I think Chaz Green can play RT just as well as Collins if he can remain healthy. I think the best five OL is Smith, Collins, Frederick, Martin, and Green. But, like you said, only time will tell. There is still a lot of off-season left to figure things out.

  • Anthony Ceniccola

    i want to think that he can transition to RT, i understand his reach is the concern but he made a name as a tackle in college. I think he may eventually be an upgrade to free but it would have been a bigger uphill battle to be an upgrade to leary.

    • Brian Martin

      Anthony, I’m going to have to disagree. I think Collins is already an upgrade over Leary, although it may be just a slight one. He was just getting used to playing OG when he suffered the foot injury that wiped out his 2016 season. I’m not saying he can’t be a good RT, I just think he is a better LG.

  • Kevin Black

    I’m going with the opposite argument for Collins at RT. Collins was a solid LT in college and while he doesn’t project as a premier LT in the NFL, he was considered by some to be usable as a LT. Dallas prefers guards who are light on their feet and Collins gives them that. That quality is what also allows Collins to perform as a RT in this offense. With more and more pass rushers ending up going against the offense’s RT, this is probably the best move for Dallas. Finding a quality RT is much harder than finding a LG. On top of that, the RT is on a bit of an island, although you could have a TE help, that’s less than ideal. With the LG, you put them between two AllPro’s and gives you a bit of protection there that the RT doesn’t have.

    If Cooper can regain his form, which is a pretty big if at this point, then Dallas will win the Offensive Line Lotto once again. If not, there are enough bodies to help there. I don’t think the RT talent outside of Collins is dependable enough to not move Collins to RT. Green has shown he can do it, but he’s also shown he can’t stay healthy.

    • Brian Martin

      Kevin, that’s as good of an assessment as I’ve read anywhere. I’m not against playing Collins at RT, I just think he is more valuable at LG. I think Chaz Green would do just as well at RT as Collins, but his health is a concern. Fortunately we have the rest of the off-season to sort things out.

    • ThePsychodad69

      Well they did get Columbo back to what they thought he could be, Leary for all the prognostication became a very good player, actually we will see if either Free or Leary were weakspots or if Parcells was right about not having steak on every plate, but a nice lamb chop or turkey leg isn’t so bad when you look at what the rest of the league puts on the table.

      • Brian Martin

        Free and Leary were definitely weak spots, but who wouldn’t be playing with Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin ha ha. I’m just hoping that whoever fills those two open roster spots on the OL isn’t a huge downgrade.

  • ThePsychodad69

    Just like moving LA to OT, not his best position but the best there now. If Green isnt wowing them @ guard his chances outside are even worse. IMO he wasn’t great and Zeke got on track once Leary got in, I thought he hurt it before the Giants game in practice, if so him playing probably finished it off.

    But why not give him snaps now and see what he can do, if he’s a reach come camp then we have a problem. Better if they find out now than 3wks into Oxnard.

    • Brian Martin

      The entire offensive line struggled in the early part of the season. It took them a little while to get going and it wasn’t just Collins that struggled. I have no problem giving Collins reps at RT right now, but I still believe his best position is LG. It’s good to get him snaps now, but I think the Cowboys are downgrading two positions if he stays at RT.

  • tom

    versatility is something they should explore for Collins. We know what we have in Green at RT and Bell is not better than Green. So why not try Collins at RT and Green at LG. If the experiment fails, put Collins back to LG. In the end, we need to see if Collins gets long term contract with $$$ freed up by Romo release. And teams pay more $$$ for RT than LG.

    • Brian Martin

      The Cowboys coaching staff is definitely exploring their options, but in the end I still believe Collins is better at LG.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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