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Joe Philbin’s Facing Similar Issues Former OL Coach Couldn’t Overcome

Joe Philbin has to be careful not to let history repeat itself.

Remember Paul Alexander, the Dallas Cowboys last offensive line coach brought in from outside of the organization? Probably not considering he was fired less than halfway through the 2018 season. Well, the same kind of issues that got him fired after only seven games could be the same ones Joe Philbin is now facing in 2020.

In 2018 Paul Alexander had to figure out who to start at center after learning of Travis Frederick’s Guillian-Barre syndrome diagnosis and also decide who to name the starting left guard. Joe Looney and Connor Williams – the Cowboys second-round pick that year – got the nod, but for whatever reasons Alexander was never able to get the entire OL to meet expectations.

Fast forward to 2020, and Joe Philbin is facing a situation eerily similar. He too has to figure out how to replace the recently retired Travis Frederick and who starts at left guard. It could very well be Joe Looney and Connor Williams once again, however, both could be challenged by a younger and quite possibly more talented players.

Joe Philbin
Dallas Cowboys OL Coach Joe Philbin

Whatever Philbin plans on doing he needs to be careful not to let history repeat itself. What happened to Paul Alexander back in 2018 is a history lesson he needs to take to heart. Even if 2/5 of the Cowboys offensive line is unsettled, it’s still probably a Top 5 unit in the NFL. But, if they don’t live up to those expectations it could be Philbin’s head on the chopping block.

Now I don’t know what Paul Alexander’s downfall was in 2018, but Joe Philbin needs to make sure he’s not making the same mistakes. It could’ve been something as simple as Alexander’s teachings not matching the skill set of his players or something else entirely. Whatever was, Philbin would be wise to leave his tinkering to a minimum.

For the most part, the Dallas Cowboys have a talented veteran group of offensive lineman who shouldn’t need a lot of coaching up. Maybe a little suggestion here and there of something they could improve upon or do a little differently, but overall the work and foundation is already in place. No need to tinker with something that already works.

It shouldn’t be a difficult job to do, however, Paul Alexander probably thought the same. I for one think Joe Philbin will be just fine, but the similarities between now and 2018 did catch my attention. It’s going to be interesting to see if history repeats itself or if Philbin is indeed the right man for the job.

How do you think Joe Philbin will do as the Cowboys new OL coach?

What do you think?

Brian Martin

Written by Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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  1. The problem with Alexander was the technique he liked to use. Our OL wasn’t used to the technique and it didn’t play well with the type of lineman we drafted. He wanted more a catch and steer style of play, where our line is better at the punch and drive style.

  2. Alexander was a very questionable hire to begin with. The OL improved the day he left and all Columbo did was eliminate the Alexander-led changes (as Kevin nailed above).

    Philbin could provide a new energy and synergy that this line could use. His task is particularly difficult in that Smith, Martin, and Collins are solid enough to start with. Philbin’s biggest impact may just be his choice for Center and/or LG. I personally like Williams as a LG, but if McGovern can beat him out, all the better. I think the center battle may very come down to Biadasz, and that could be how Philbin actually makes his mark. Coach this kid up and if the line plays well (or doesn’t drop off), Philbin is a hero.

    I am curious to see if he’l employ any scheme changes … maybe in how we screen block?

  3. The Dallas offensive line has been regressing since 2017.
    2/5 of the line needs replacing plus Tyron Smith is now missing multiple games a year , so no, the Boys do not have an automatic top ten line. It is needed that Philbin prepare for center, left guard, and left tackle to all be replaced along with replacing the main backups.
    The issue with Alexander as noted in another post was quit clearly explained when he was replaced as a problem with Alexander demanding a significant change to blocking technique that the players did not perform well. There was no mystery to why the Alexander line failed . Alexander demanded players change technique and become a very different skill type and that just failed.
    Philbin has a very different problem in that writers and fans keep seeing the 2016 line in their minds when the year is 2020. Philbin is tasked with building a new line and dealing with Elliott’s slowing down where the line has to hold open run holes much longer waiting for Elliott to get to the line.
    Put away the hype and the reality is this is a rebuilding year in Dallas and it needs to be done with limited contact due to covid.

  4. Might not even be a top 10 line anymore with 2/5 line in question and the possibility of starting a rookie Biadasz at center, as well as an aging T Smith. Dak great rookie yr was in lg part due to best line in league and dominant yr from Zeke. That’s what worries me that Dak needs alot of help around him. Unfortunately he just doesn’t have the skill set to carry a team like an A Rodgers or a R Wilson.

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