The offensive line in 2012 was obviously a glaring weakness last season.
The team ranked second to last in rushing with a miserable 3.6 yards per attempt and produced just 8 rushing touchdowns all season.
The O-line allowed 36 sacks and let Tony Romo take 75 hits. Both these statistics landed them in about the middle of the league but you also have to remember that Tony has a knack for escaping pressure which can skew the numbers.
The bottom line is, the offensive line play was bad.
For the Cowboys to compete they need to give Romo more time and allow the rushing attack to become a relevant part of the offense. Let's take a look at the impact players the Cowboy's are counting on to turn around this unit.
The stud of the line is 23 year old Tyron Smith. Tyron allowed just three sacks in his first season playing left tackle in the NFL. He had a rough start to open up the season but improved as is progressed. It's hard to imagine Tyron will not continue this upward trend. Look for an even better performance this year as he settles in at his position protecting Tony's blind side.
When you're a first round draft pick you're expected to come in and start day one. Jerry Jones is a big believer in this mantra and I have no doubt Frederick will be your game one center. Ignore all the controversy surrounding the pick and you're left with a big, strong, mean center. He was the best center in the 2013 NFL draft and the Cowboys got significantly better at the position by selecting him.
Livings had a pretty solid debut season for the Cowboys. He was a very effective run blocker as most of the Cowboy's successful rushes came from the left side. He was ranked byProFootballFocus.com as the sixth best Left Guard in the league. He did however, allow 6 sacks which is a number he's going to have to lower in 2013. Another offseason in Callahan's system should help.
Bernadeau was arguably the weakest link of the line last season. He gave up 5 sacks, 21 quarterback hurries, and was horrible in the run game. Hip surgery and a knee injury forced him to miss the OTA's and most of training camp last season. Let's hope his struggles were caused by the lack of preseason reps. For the Cowboy's to get where they want to be the right side of the line has to improve this year. They did not address this concern in the draft or in free agency so they must be banking on Bernadeau or someone else already on the roster.
Doug Free/Jeremy Parnell
Doug Free's stuggles are well documented. He lead the league in penalties, and was responsible for 43 QB hurries. I didn't think there was chance he would be on this team in 2013. However, the Cowboys like him enough to keep him around at a discounted price and they restructured his contract.
The plan seems to let Free and Jeremy Parnell battle it out in training camp for the starting position. Parnell was a pleasant surprise in 2012. He is stronger and much more athletic the Doug Free but is still very raw. The right tackle position has to be keeping Romo up at night but the Cowboys are hoping one of these two players steps up their game in 2013.
The undrafted free agent that was the apple of Jerry Jone's eye last year is back. Everyone who talks about this kid has only good things to say about him. He's humble, hard-working, and constantly improves. It's still very early but he was one of the bright spots of the rookie mini camp. Look for Leary to make his case for the 52 man roster and his number could get called if Bernadeau continues to struggle.
Though Promising, We Need To Relax About Safety Kavon Frazier
With the addition of former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard to the Cowboys' defensive coaching staff, fans are hoping that Dallas will create their own "Legion of Boom." Of course this is a lofty goal, but one worth pursuing nonetheless.
If the Cowboys are to recreate the Legion of Boom they will need their version of two vital pieces: Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
The Seahawks defense works, in many ways, because of these two players. Thomas' ability to play centerfield and literally defend sideline to sideline gives the Seahawks the freedom to use Chancellor where he's best, as a box safety. Chancellor is a big, physical safety who defends the run effectively in the box and can blanket tight ends in man coverage with his size and athleticism.
These safeties are arguably the most critical pieces to the Legion of Boom, though having a shutdown corner in Richard Sherman certainly doesn't hurt.
Realizing Chancellor's importance, Cowboys fans are hoping that current safety Kavon Frazier can fulfill this role in Dallas. Since being drafted by the Cowboys in 2016 Frazier has made his home on Special Teams. As an impressive tackler in both punt and kick coverage, Frazier earned himself time at safety down the stretch of the 2017 season.
All in all, Frazier played rather well. Against the Washington Redskins he stepped in and made a few splash plays at the line of scrimmage, causing Cowboys Nation to lose their minds. After that impressive Thursday night game, however, Kavon Frazier didn't really reach that same level of performance.
Frazier is still a liability when asked to cover, especially when asked to play as a two deep safety. He also struggles when taking angles at times, though playing downhill as a tackler is his best attribute. Frazier actually reminds me a bit of Barry Church, though over time Church became more refined in coverage than Frazier currently is.
Some have argued that Kavon Frazier's presence should stop the Cowboys from considering a first round safety. I would disagree, and actually believe that if Florida State's Derwin James is available, the Cowboys should consider making that pick.
If you could combine the athleticism and coverage abilities of Byron Jones with the physicality and "box safety" qualities of Kavon Frazier, you'd have a fantastic safety. Unfortunately, this isn't the Marvel Universe and we are left without any super heroes in the back-end.
Hopefully Kris Richard will figure out how to correctly place all of these pieces in the Dallas Cowboys secondary going forward.
Maverick Carter: LeBron James Considered Cowboys During NBA Lockout
Maverick Carter is a pretty important man in the world of sports. As a business man, entrepreneur, and manager of one of the best basketball players of all time in LeBron James, Maverick Carter is certainly used to making headlines.
This week, while on former NFL running back Arian Foster's podcast "Now What? with Arian Foster," Carter claimed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones once attempted to negotiate a contract with LeBron James.
During the 2011 NBA lockout, Carter claims that Jones contacted LeBron James and discussed bringing him in as a Cowboy while the NBA was without games.
"Jerry Jones, being the smart marketer he is...one day out of the clear blue sky LeBron got a contract I think it was for like one year, a couple million bucks to play for the Dallas Cowboys." - Maverick Carter.
Carter then states that LeBron may have the paperwork framed in his house to remember these discussions with Jerry Jones. LeBron's fandom for the Cowboys has been well documented, as has been his high school football prowess.
We may never know how "real" these discussions were, and of course it is long over now, but just imagining LeBron James getting a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys would break the internet.
You can check out the full episode of the podcast here, and I highly suggest listening to the other episodes Arian Foster has to offer.
Cowboys Will Tag DeMarcus Lawrence; What’s the Plan?
February 20 is an important day for NFL clubs this year. Why? It's the first day in which teams can franchise tag any player. Since 2015, when the Dallas Cowboys tagged Dez Bryant before they were able to work out a long-term deal, Jerry Jones & Co. haven't used the franchise tag. In 2018, though, that will change.
DeMarcus Lawrence just played his best season yet in 2017, and he's looking to get paid big time. Through three years, he had been able to rack up nine sacks, 52 tackles and three forced fumbles. In just 2017, he sacked opposing quarterbacks 14.5 times, had 35 tackles and managed to force four fumbles.
Not only did Lawrence look like an elite pass rusher, but he also improved as a run defender a lot. The Cowboys have been looking for a "War Daddy" for a long, long time and Lawrence seems to be the answer for this football team.
After such a big year, one would expect the Cowboys to sign him to a multi-year enormous contract. But there's a catch. Lawrence failed to remain healthy early in his career and really didn't make as much of an impact until last season.
There's no question that D-Law will be wearing a star come the 2018 NFL season, but will he be doing it under a long-term deal or under a franchise tag?
Cowboys will not place franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence tomorrow as that window opens but will do so by March 6 w/ understanding the goal is to reach a long-term deal. Both sides have until July 16 to make that happen.
For now, according to David Moore from Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence with the objective of getting a deal done in July. The tag however, is not expected to be placed as soon as possible.
In 2015, the Cowboys didn't place the franchise tag on Dez Bryant until the final deadline day. This year's deadline is March 6th, so it may be two weeks before they make it official with DeMarcus Lawrence. #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys
What would franchise tagging DeMarcus Lawrence mean for this team?
First of all, they'd make sure he doesn't hit free agency in March. This gives the front office time to get to work and restructure players' contracts if they have to in order to open up as much cap space as they can before giving him a deal.
It's worth mentioning as well, cap savings from players who are designated as post-June 1 cuts will already be available. If you want to be more familiarized with the Cowboys' cap situation, I highly recommend you read John Williams' deep dive on the matter.
It'll continue to be a very interesting story for this offseason, as handing a franchise tag to a player tends to become a non-friendly situation for both parties. Let's hope that's not the case for the Cowboys and Lawrence this year and that everything works out fine.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue updating you and the rest of Cowboys Nation throughout the offseason.
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