Lost in the shuffle of the seven coaching changes the Dallas Cowboys made this offseason is a changing of the guard at the team’s most talented position. Not returning Frank Pollack to lead their offensive line, OL Coach Paul Alexander comes to the Cowboys new to this team’s approach but not in coaching up NFL linemen.
With 24 years of experience all in Cincinnati, Alexander became Marvin Lewis’ assistant head coach with the Bengals as he developed into one of the most technical OL coaches in the game. Now in Dallas, Alexander has a chance to culminate this experience into a “beautiful situation”.
Saying as much about the opportunity to coach Tyron Smith, Connor Williams, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins, the Cowboys commitment to offensive line play goes beyond the All-Pro starters up front.
Spending in free agency to maintain the depth of this unit with Offensive Tackle Cam Fleming and Guard Marcus Martin, while also adding four new players to their backfield, the Cowboys are going to find out quickly the type of impact Paul Alexander can make.
Alexander’s potential contributions have been mitigated by expectations for coaches like Kris Richard, who brings the Seahawks’ constant energy on defense to the Cowboys talented secondary. Alexander’s response to this has been a simple thank you, for veterans like Smith, Martin, and Frederick allowing him to continue teaching them.
The Cowboys offensive line does everything together. The continued focus by three All-Pros to better their craft as blockers and team leaders will only elevate the play of a rookie like Connor Williams.
Expected to start immediately at left guard between Smith — a player Williams has always modeled his game after, playing tackle at Texas — and Frederick, Alexander did speak to the differences in teaching proven players as opposed to new ones.
Though different techniques will be taught to the entirety of this retooled Cowboys line, players like Williams will be told, “you’re doing it this way”.
So long as this is the Cowboys way, carrying Ezekiel Elliott to a league rushing title as a rookie in 2016, Alexander will have no problem in taking over the Cowboys offensive line through such a pivotal stretch of their collective careers.
Tyron Smith’s lingering back injuries remain crippling to this team’s offense whenever the left tackle is off the field. The same would certainly be said about Zack Martin, should his current OTA holdout keep him absent for any meaningful offseason work. Taking part in everything but the on-field work at the moment, the Cowboys and Alexander believe they’ll secure the long-term future of their right guard without issue.
This goes without mentioning the greatest benefactors to the Cowboys establishing their dominant offensive line. Not only will their work for Prescott and Elliott hopefully return this team to their 2016 form, but added additions like Bo Scarbrough and Tavon Austin will be given their chance to run the rock as well.
Of course they will, because everything goes right in football heaven. Affectionately known inside The Star as Paul Alexander’s offensive line room.