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Full Circle: Cowboys Offensive Line Has Become Biggest Problem on Offense

An “extremely disappointed” Jerry Jones addressed the media following the latest untimely playoff exit, mentioning the urgency a team must have when their is as talented as this year’s Cowboys were. In Jones’ own words, the NFL is designed for parity, with players and coaches leaving the best teams in the to turn around new franchises.

This time has come and gone for the Cowboys offensive line, once widely considered the league’s best. Their failure to realize this sooner is also the reason their came to an end on Sunday, at the hands of a dominant defensive front.

Full Circle: Cowboys Offensive Line Has Become Biggest Problem on Offense

Whether it was the amount of time the Cowboys gave their previous HC before hiring the suddenly-under-fire , or their insistence on sticking with an injured RB this season, Dallas has not been ahead of the curve in admitting to mistakes and making the rapid adjustments that winning teams do. McCarthy was hired on the premise that a franchise , offensive line (influenced largely by Garrett), and coordinator were all in place.

One embarrassing home loss to the 49ers later, two of these three premises are in major doubt. The same that championed for a HC opening early in the year are now begging for another franchise to hand the keys to Moore. The truth is, the Cowboys knew there would be growing pains with Moore as a young and inexperienced OC, and created a weakness at the hardest position to scheme around – offensive line.

, , , , and La’el Collins started the game for Dallas. It was one of seven different alignments the Cowboys played with this season. Smith, Martin, and Collins all missed time to this season while Williams was benched for . Putting Williams back in the lineup was supposed to be for his upside, and Moore’s confidence in overcoming his frequent penalties. A Williams holding call erased a 32-yard catch by in the first quarter and a false start led to a punt in the third.

Even the cornerstone player of this entire , seven-time All Pro Zack Martin, admitted this unit did not live up to standards all season.

The next time Martin is eligible to take a snap for the Cowboys, he’ll be 31 years old. The same goes for Tyron Smith, who hasn’t played a a full regular season since 2015. Neither future Hall of Fame linemen have any playoff success with the Cowboys to speak of.

Full Circle: Cowboys Offensive Line Has Become Biggest Problem on Offense 1

Now, the same Cowboys that was praised for building this 12-win roster is tasked with improving an offensive line in need of serious help. Regularly using high draft picks here is how the Cowboys ended up with lack of depth elsewhere on the roster. At the cost of a depleted OL, the Cowboys have depth now, but still face a cap space crunch with the money invested in their starters.

Williams along with backup tackles and will hit in March.

Not even 24 hours after this loss, Stephen Jones told 105.3 The Fan that the team isn’t likely to make big splashes again in free agency this offseason. This tired, repetitive line from the organization leaves only one way to improve any position group – drafting plug and play starters.

Offensive line is one of the best positions for starters to find success, especially if taking advantage of the years Martin, Smith, and Collins have left to develop. The long-term concern in Dallas shouldn’t be that the line play won’t improve. It’s the way they go about protecting the franchise QB they’ve already committed to, in a timely enough fashion to not be depleted elsewhere.

Full Circle: Cowboys Offensive Line Has Become Biggest Problem on Offense 2

The 49ers came into this matchup with a very specific needed to upset the Cowboys. Their defensive front needed to mask a that had little business holding Lamb to one catch and to six for 64 yards. They also had to take the Cowboys out of their run game, which Moore assisted in by only giving six touches.

Playoff games aren’t won on reputation, and the Cowboys realized this on Sunday when their once star-studded offensive line gave them little chance to put up the points they did previously this season. Only the Eagles, Rams, Jaguars, and Falcons scored less than 17 on the 49ers this season. The Eagles joined the Cowboys in losing their Wild Card matchup this weekend.

If those 40 and 50 point performances from Moore and the Cowboys offense felt like a distant memory before kickoff at , this long offseason ahead will erase them entirely and challenge the Cowboys to make improvements on the offensive line before next season.

Tell us what you think about “Full Circle: Cowboys Offensive Line Has Become Biggest Problem on Offense” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Sean Martin

Written by Sean Martin

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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20 Comments

  1. Gentlemen, I have been a cowboy fan for over 5 decades, so I have seen a lot of very successful, winning football, from our team. The problem that this team has that the Landry and Johnson coached teams did not have, DISCIPLINE & ACCOUNTABILITY. They would not put up with the all the pre-snap penalties or the lack of execution on the field. We can clearly see CeeDee’s reaction after his 32 yard reception, when he finds out there was a holding call. I believe this got to him mentally and toke him out of his game. So lack of discipline on one players part can rub off and affect his teammates. A huge part of our problems would be solved if those 2 things (DISCIPLINE & ACCOUNTABILITY) were addressed.

  2. Hey Sean and Raul, let me preface my comments by saying I’m a longtime Cowboy fan, since 1966. And obviously I want to see our team succeeded, and hopefully get to and win another SB. Also older fans like myself, we were spoiled by all the earlier success, as in SB wins, and may tend to be more critical now because of that.

    Sean, yes CW is/was probably the weakest link on the O-line for at least this PS game. And unfortunately, Smith is not what he once was, and some folks were hoping, last year, they drafted one of those top two LTs available. Still, not sure the line is a bad line overall, and maybe the 9ers D-line just played better. After Bosa and one of their better LBs went down, the line seem to pick up somewhat. But sure, they should be looking at upgrades thru FA or the draft.

    Raul, it’s hard to nail down exactly what went wrong, but I will give it a try. DP was playing better earlier in the year, as was EE, who looked rejuvenated. Unfortunately, the second half of the year, EE just didn’t look good. Maybe the knee injury or maybe he just doesn’t have it anymore. DP also didn’t play well in the latter games, outside of the Philly blowout game where the Eagles didn’t play their regulars. IMO, DP is just pretty inconsistent and seems to be a slow starter. Now against the weaker teams in their division, he could get away with that, pile up stats, and still win games. But once you get into the superior playoff teams, you can’t hide those deficiencies. The warts come out.

    Also, the defense was producing turnovers at an unsustainably rate and keep on mind, those TOs helped the offense tremendously. They got just one TO against the 49ers, which did turn into a TD. But that one was obviously not enough. Plus the run game was pretty much non existent. I thought one way to take away some heat from that 49er pass rush was to run some screen plays or draws, but, for some reason, they didn’t do that. Lastly, maybe the team is somewhat overated and/or over hyped. Of course those penalties didn’t help. Hope that helped, just my take.

  3. VAM you make some good points on the team and yes all teams have liabilities, what do you think is the reasons this team didnt advance because compared to other teams they are loaded

  4. Now it’s the O-line’s turn to be blamed.
    Years back it was the Defense. Rebuild.
    Dez couldn’t separate, etc. GONE. Brought in Cooper, then CDL, MG, at el.
    Garrett, et al, were the problem, GONE. Brought in MM, et al.
    ETC. ETC. ETC.

    Conclusion: NO TEAM WILL EVER HAVE EXACTLY EVERYTHING THEY WANT OR NEED AT EVERY POSITION.

    LOOK, they had all their STARTERS on that O-line for that game. Is it the best O-line right now? NO, but it’s far from the worst, IMO. BTW, they DID have one the best O-LInes and THE BEST RUNNING BACK in the NFL a few years back, RESULT?

    Really NO MAJOR INJURIES on the entire team.

    SUCCESSFUL TEAMS AND THE GREAT LEADERS ON THOSE TEAMS OVERCOME THESE “DEFICIENCIES”. STOP THE EXCUSES!!!

    BTW, will any of the authors here do an article on that disgusting display by DP of condoning VIOLENCE against the Game Officials after the game on Sunday. Not only did he try to deflect ACCOUNTABILITY for the loss, but he also embarrassed the TEAM with that disgraceful rhetoric. At first when he was told that the fans were throwing bottles and trash at the PLAYERS, he was indignant, saying how “these players give everything to the game each and every day…”. Then when he got the REAL story about how the REFS were the TARGET, he says “credit to them, then, credit to them”. Entitled $40 million/yr guy knocking some ref making maybe a few thousand a game.

    BTW, these players don’t “GIVE” anything to the game. They are being compensated ROYALLY for their services. So, DP, stop the melodrama and BULLSHIT.

    • Thank you for reading, VAM. Offensive line is one of the positions where you’re only as good as your weakest link, and that low point can get pretty low with a player like CW given his performance Sunday. Add in a guy like Smith getting beat more than usual and there’s really no chance. As for Dak Prescott, it was a terrible look in the moment, but let’s not forget the same media members in the room that asked him the question laughed at his response before dragging him for it after. That will blow over as probably the only thing Prescott has ever said truly wrong in public.

      • Sean Martin, explain to me why Dak needs his O Line to be great but when you look at other guys such as Burrow who’s balled inspite of his O Line ?

        I just feel Dak isn’t as good as advertised, compared to other QBs i saw this weekend he looked more closely to Jimmy G than Burrow, and ppl have been trashing and calling for his job, of which the 9ers drafted Lance, but we ain’t no where near that ourselves, ppl are saying he’s the guy of which i believe this weekend proved he isn’t

      • I also believe Ceedee and Coop needs some criticism in all this as well, neither one are as good as advertised for different reasons

        Coop has disappeared way too much for what he’s paid and expected to do, idk if it’s injuries catching up to him or what, nevertheless it’s not a valid excuse

        Ceedee has just fallen flat of expectations, look at Jefferson who was taken the next pick after him, unbelievable player, ain’t having a problem with drops or getting open, there’s been talented RAC wrs before that couldn’t catch, one’s name is Tavon Austin, Ceedee got to get better and play better or he’s border lining on bust

  5. The offensive is the main reason we lost, think about it we couldnt run the ball not because Zeke, he is fine, as soon as he touches ball running up the middle he going backwards. Passing the ball no different as soon as the ball is snapped our offensive linemen are falling backwards with a 4 man rush, the 40whiners secondary was weak we should have passed the heck out of the ball but we didnt. I say draft O line 1st n 2nd round, maybe trade Cooper for a solid O lineman, we have a lot of weapons but cant do anything without a solid O line

  6. Total agreement. And we saw this last year. Which is why many people thought the Cowboys might go T in 1st round. And I’m sure they were tempted. I see no more than 1 more season out of Tyron. With history of his neck and back he could retire at any time. Martin has been relatively healthy. Up the middle and at LG we get manhandled consistently. And the Cowboys may not admit it but people in the league were surprised at pulling Steele who by most accounts from league people and Pro Football Focus playing at or near Pro bowl caliber a month and a half into the season. Moving him to LT was a mistake. And McCarthy himself said later about moving Martin to tackle he didn’t like having 2 changes on the line. That’s what happened with Steele and Collins. And facts are Collins has been terrible. Maybe the hip. The left side even with Tyron was horrible the 2nd half of the season. One of my favorite players and a future HOFer but he was average this year and can’t stay healthy. Sure he made Pro Bowl but that’s with mostly fan voting. How many All Pro votes did he get? Yeah, time to install new bodies on this line

    • Yeah, pulling Steele for La’el was a big mistake. They should have put La’el back at LG. Sure, he wasn’t outstanding his first go around at LG, but he likely was a lot better than Connor & Connor, the yellow flagged turnstile twins.

      If he refused? Then sit on the bench big guy because Steele is performing very well, and you’ve been out hurt and suspended…again.

      When Tyron inevitably got hurt, if Nsekhe wasn’t available (he was hurt for a while, too), then either slide La’el out to LT or bring in Connor Williams like last season. Surprisingly, he wasn’t terrible in his short stint at LT in 2020.

      As for going forward, there’s no reason Steele can’t be the starting RT from here on out.

      I think they have a future Center in Farniok. He didn’t look over matched when he got a few snaps. If not C, then he may actually pass McGovern at backup G if Connor #2 doesn’t improve significantly this off season.

      At LG, I would move La’el there from the beginning of mini camps. Let him and McGovern fight it out. If Farniok passes them both, so be it.

      At LT, I doubt Isaac Alarcón will ever be the answer, as they were already moving him to LG during preseason. However, if Josh Ball is as good as he’s been hyped (fell due to off the field issues), we might just have an answer at LT. Unfortunately, he didn’t get much work during the preseason last year. It’d be great if he can take a big step up after a year of studying and in an NFL strength program.

      If not, we’re screwed unless they do the smart thing and draft a new LT in the 1st or 2nd round. I have little faith in them being able to bring in a serviceable or better free agent T with the lack of cap money and the way they wait for the free agent market to settle before making any moves.

  7. If I’m Jerry Jones… I’m thinking back on the last time we had this level of talent on our team. We were winning Superbowls… the difference, as I see it, is with the Coach. Jimmy Johnson simply would not allow the mistakes, the penalties, the sloppy play. Yes, if I’m Jerry Jones… I’m taking Jimmy to dinner and I’m offering him everything short of my soul to come back for one last ride.

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