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Dallas Cowboys O-Line, Are They Good Enough?

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What makes a good Offensive line? How do we judge their performance? The questions could go on and on, with many different outlooks. I am sure my assessment is different than yours, but one thing is for sure everyone has doubts about the Dallas Cowboys Line and I am not so sure all the doubts are warranted!

Many of us were spoiled by the O-Line of the 90’s teams, and there are some of us that believe that if you cannot operate the way that line did then you’re not any good! Well this is just not true!

The design of the teams offense can make or break a line, just the same as a line can make or break an offense.

There are many out there who always want to look at sacks allowed as the judgment stat, this is the wrong way to look at things.

In 2006 this O-line paved the way for 1936 yards rushing on 472 attempts for an avg. of 4.1 yards per carry. In that same year Bledsoe and Romo combined for 4067 passing yards on 506 attempts for an avg. of 8.0 yards per attempt. They were also sacked 37 times.

Then in 2007 they rushed for 1746 yards on 419 attempts for an avg. of 4.2 yards per carry. While Romo threw for 4211 yards on 520 attempts for an avg. of 8.1 yards and was sacked 25 times.

Finally last year they rushed for 1723 yards on 401 attempts for an avg. of 4.3 yards per carry. The group of QB’s last year combined for 3789 yards passing on 547 attempts for an avg. of 6.9 yards per play and were sacked 31 times (11 of those over a 3 game span from Bollinger and Johnson).

So are you seeing the trend? What I see is a team game planning away from the run, not because they cannot do it but rather just because they want to.

In three short years this team has gone from a super balanced attack (50% runs vs 50% pass) to a very one sided passing team (last year 42% run vs 58% pass) and in every year since 2006 there number of plays and rushing yards have gone down! There average yards per carry have increased to further prove the point that it is not a line problem but more so a scheme problem.

When you are dealing with a line built at an average 6’5” 327 lbs. you cannot expect them to sustain blocks for very long! Guys that big are built to smash folks in the mouth and blow open a hole and then release.

As far as the sack numbers are concerned this unit averages 1.9 sacks per game over the last three years. Just to put this figure into perspective, the Indianapolis Colts give up the least per game with an average of 1.1 sacks per game (12 less per year than Dallas) but the Cowboys line protects as well and better than most in the rest of the league. The Giants come in at 1.7, Patriots 2.1, Eagles 2.0.

What I am trying to get to is very simple, This Line may not be the best in the league but they are most definitely in the top tier!

For those of you who wish to argue and live in the 90’s please go look at the numbers! From 1992 to 1995 (the hay day) the O-Line of all O-Lines gave up an average of 1.5 sacks per game (a mere 6 less sacks over the course of the year)! Over that same time period the Cowboys offense averaged 30 pass attempts     per game , and 32 rush attempts per game with a average of 4.1 yards per rush attempt.

Now I have never claimed to be the smartest guy on the planet but the only thing I see wrong with this group is the way that they are used!

This team has a wealth of talent on the Offensive line that is not being used properly. I have never been one to play around much with predictions, but I feel compelled in this situation!

So I am hereby making my first prediction of the season (it may be my last too!) If this unit (Jason Garrett) changes there scheme and gets back to being more of a 50 – 50 offense, this offensive line will be regarded as one of, if not THE top lines in the NFL!

I am also going to go on record as saying this team will win the division and end its playoff win less streak!

I realize I have opened myself up to some harsh criticisms, but I am willing to defend my thoughts are you?



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3 Comments
  • Jonathan

    I’m convinced. Your research speaks volumes. Count me as one of the many that’s been critical.

    • bags030404

      Thanks to a few commentors the last few days my curiosity was kicked into gear. I have never really looked at the numbers or really investigated the situation until now and I am so glad that I did!

  • Jonathan

    I’ve been saying since off-season began that the Cowboy’s need to be more balanced. And I, also, have pointed to scheme as being a huge issue. But I never delved into the stats driving my belief. Like many, I assumed much of the problem was due to the OL inability to give Romo time. But like you said, they really aren’t built to do that on a regular basis to begin with. Hopefully will see a change in that direction this season. And if we do, I agree with your prediction.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.



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