The Dallas Cowboys host a playoff game in 11 days, and I’m here to talk about Emmett Cleary.
In all seriousness, teams are constantly evaluating their rosters, particularly the Cowboys when it comes to their star-studded offensive line.
With so much invested into starters like Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, the Cowboys need outstanding value to fill out the depth on this line in order to ensure they’ll sustain their dominance for as long as possible.
Particularly, the Dallas Cowboys are pretty thin at offensive tackle. Tyron Smith might be the best player in football (I’m here to defend this take, @ShoreSportsNJ if you want), but Doug Free is an aging player at right tackle. Chaz Green has seen time at tackle for Smith, but his long-term role as a backup/future starter at RT is in jeopardy thanks to his latest season-ending injury.
Enter Emmett Cleary, Who was signed by the Cowboys in September after La’el Collins’ injury. In the last two Cowboys’ regular season games, Cleary has gotten reps at left tackle – and has made the most of them.
Cleary has NFL experience with multiple teams, so it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that he was able to fill in well on these “meaningless” snaps. On his sixth team since 2013, Cleary is not only now a member of the best team in the league, but has a chance to make his future in Dallas as well.
Sure, the backup or swing tackle position could be upgraded a million different ways, and retaining Emmett Cleary is hardly the “sexiest” way to make this upgrade, but his film from the past two weeks speaks for itself.
Cleary does recover very well when beat off the snap, has strong hands – more importantly gets to defenders hands to negate rush/steer DE. https://t.co/Dxgi6Fxpaq
When I went to study Cleary against the Eagles, I jumped right to the most important snaps he’s ever seen in his life. Protecting Tony Romo‘s blind side, Cleary looked very good – as he did throughout the entirety of the afternoon.
What stood out to me was Cleary’s intelligence at the position, knowing how to set up defenders when he was forced to compensate for a lack of physical skill. As a point of attack blocker, Cleary controls his blockers with a strong base and can move them off the line of scrimmage.
Cleary may not get a massive push back in these situations, but his rusher is rarely involved in the play – which is all you can ask for. When he is beat off the ball like in the clip above, Cleary shows a real knack for recovering by locating the rushers’ hands and swiping them to eventually re-control the blocker.
As he does in the clip above, once Cleary knocks a defender off-balance, he is able to squarely block them using his own power and balance, even once they’ve turned the corner to give him a smaller target to work with.
I don’t need to draft a tackle in the first 4 rounds anymore. I’m perfectly happy with Cleary and whatever Green may be. Collins emergency. https://t.co/HyLpPER7eJ
When rushers expect to get a knock back against Cleary, which they will at times if they catch him playing too low in his stance, his impressive lower-body work allows him to keep them away with his long arms and short-range power.
I hate to be this guy, but there is about a 1% chance the #DallasCowboys can win a Super Bowl without Tyron Smith.
While I think most of Cowboys Nation would agree with me on this take from December about starting LT Tyron Smith, it has to be relieving for the Cowboys to know that their franchise quarterback (quarterbacks?) won’t be under pressure on seemingly every snap if Cleary is forced to play – which is more than you can say about other backup offensive tackles.
Every team hopes to hit on a few practice squad signings of experienced players that can fill out a roster. Emmett Cleary has done this over the last two weeks of the 2016 season, and based on his performance, should get a chance to do so for much longer with the silver and blue.