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.
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.