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.