Dallas Cowboys Playoff Primer: Dallas Cowboys Offensive Tackles Published 1 year ago on January 5, 2017 By Sean Martin Share Tweet Its time for another edition of #PlayoffPrimer, and after looking at the Cowboys running backs and wide receivers, we’ll move on to part of the best unit in the National Football League – Dallas’ offensive line. Specifically, we’ll look at the tackle position, where I already wrote that the Dallas Cowboys may have found some solid depth with Emmett Cleary. The presumed starters in the playoffs though will be Tyron Smith and Doug Free. Tyron Smith You couldn’t ask for a better starter at left tackle in the playoffs than Tyron Smith. The best LT in the league, Smith should be healthy for the Divisional Round after missing the second-half of the Lions game and all of week 17 against the Eagles. A healthy Tyron Smith absolutely takes opposing teams’ right defensive ends out of the game, and the Cowboys could see a few talented ones in Olivier Vernon, Cliff Avril, and Ezekiel Ansah throughout the playoffs. If you buy into narratives, some will tell you that Vernon – the Giants’ premier free agent signing and edge rusher – has been the only defender to give Smith consistent trouble, but a closer look at the tape has shown that Tyron holds his own against not only Olivier Vernon but any rusher in the NFL – often times dominating the match up enough to get called for a few phantom holding calls. Turn on the TV before the Cowboys kickoff this postseason, watch the offense come out onto the field, take note of #77 starting on the far-left side of the line – and then forget about him for the rest of the game. Doug Free I’m here to tell you that Doug Free is actually good at football. While many in Cowboys Nation disagree, Free is asked to stand out among first round picks like Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin. While he’s far from as dominant as these other starters, Free is still an above-average player that does his job well on a consistent basis. Defensive coordinators charged with the task of game planning against the Cowboys’ great wall know that attacking Smith at LT is a lost cause, and they scheme their best defensive ends to attack Free – who consistently holds his own. Like Tyron Smith, Doug Free will face tough match ups in the playoffs, but should be up for the challenge – sensing that his time in Dallas may be up well before the rest of this offensive line. Thanks to this line, the Cowboys could be looking at a long stretch of dominance in the NFC, but Free’s focus needs to be on putting together his best three games to raise the Lombardi Trophy with his teammates in Houston. Free’s primary focus in this regard should be on limiting penalties, as the entirety of the Dallas offense has shot themselves in the foot far too often over the final quarter of this season with untimely flags. Emmett Cleary //insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/is-ot-emmett-clearys-future-with-the-cowboys/ As mentioned, I already broke down Cleary’s game in the above post. To summarize, while you certainly want Tyron Smith taking every snap the rest of the way out at left tackle for Dallas, I would feel relatively comfortable with Cleary in an emergency situation. The journeyman lineman made the most of the playing time he received over the past two weeks, and now will enter the playoffs with the Cowboys confident in his ability to be their only real backup option at tackle. If he plays like he did throughout the Eagles game, Cleary could become an unsung hero should the unthinkable happen and Tyron Smith exits a playoff game due to injury. My Playoff Primer series will continue up until the Divisional Playoffs, and we’ll round out the offensive line by looking at the interior players next. Tell us what you think about “Playoff Primer: Dallas Cowboys Offensive Tackles” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL! ADVERTISEMENT Related Topics:Doug FreeEmmett ClearyOffensive LinePlayoff PrimerTackleTyron Smith Up Next Playoff Primer: Dallas Cowboys Interior Offensive Linemen Don't Miss Which Cowboys Staff Members Will Be Targeted This Offseason Sean Martin Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we’re not how you think we are. Host of “Upon Further Review” on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL. Advertisement You may like Luxury or Need for Cowboys to Draft Another 1st-Round OL? Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job REPORT: Cowboys Replacing OL Coach Frank Pollack How Extending Zack Martin’s Contract Helps Cowboys Salary Cap What was the Biggest Disappointment for Cowboys in 2017? OL Zack Martin Did Not Commit a Penalty in 2017 Click to comment Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts Published 5 hours ago on January 16, 2018 By Jess Haynie Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense. He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016. Tom Pelissero on Twitter With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now. If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position. Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee. He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football. Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season. Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot. Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here. Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to. It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator. Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most. ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Dallas Cowboys Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander Published 1 day ago on January 15, 2018 By Kevin Brady Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander. Alex Marvez on Twitter Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003. The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders. Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation. Joey Ickes on Twitter Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired. The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season. Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys. Goodberry on Twitter Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units. We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out. ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Dallas Cowboys Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job Published 2 days ago on January 14, 2018 By Sean Martin By keeping all three top coaches (Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli) in place for 2018, there isn’t a Dallas Cowboys coaching hire that feels like they “must” get it right to contend next season. This is how it should be. Producing nine wins, despite missing key players throughout the season, the Cowboys are changing things up at the position coach level to hopefully introduce new ideas and give the talent on this team a better chance at sustained success. One coaching vacancy that needs to be filled by the right guy above any else is on the offensive line, where things haven’t been the same since the great Bill Callahan departed. Frank Pollack took his place, and now finds himself with the Cincinnati Bengals after not being retained by Dallas this offseason. Tom Cable (Stephen Brashear / Getty Images) The first name that was thrown around in consideration for the Cowboys job was Tom Cable, which sent a panic throughout Cowboys Nation before Cable decided to sign with John Gruden and the Raiders. Cable had been coaching the Seahawks’ OL, a position that franchise has not valued in some time, and struggled to develop any talent in protection of their franchise QB Russell Wilson. Now, two new names have emerged as candidates to coach the likes of two-time 1st Team All-Pro LT Tyron Smith, 1st Team All-Pro C Travis Frederick, and two-time 1st Team All-Pro RG Zack Martin. Mike Solari and Paul Alexander Paul Alexander has already met with the Dallas Cowboys, looking for work after 23 seasons with the Bengals. During this time, Alexander served as Marvin Lewis’ assistant head coach, in addition to his duties as their OL coach. Judging on reactions out of Cincinnati to Alexander’s departure, the Bengals offensive line regressed under him in 2017, warranting change from a franchise that is as reluctant as any to move on from coaches. Goodberry on Twitter Paul Alexander better be gone Most recently, Mike Solari has served as the offensive line coach for the New York Giants — far from a renowned unit around the NFL lately. He does have previous experience with the Cowboys, having served as an assistant OL and special teams coach here from 1987-88. From 2006-07, Solari did reach the rank of offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs, which shows the level of respect that the 30-year NFL coaching veteran has earned. He will be the Dallas Cowboys’ next interview for their open OL coach position. Dallas Cowboys RT La’el Collins, RG Zack Martin Depth at tackle, a long-term answer at left guard, and an extension for Zack Martin are among the questions facing the Cowboys offensive line moving forward. Whoever is in charge of keeping this unit up to standard in 2018 though, may hold the keys to getting the entirety of the Cowboys’ program back on track. Whether it’s Alexander, Solari, or another outside candidate yet to emerge, Inside The Star will keep you updated on the Cowboys’ ongoing coaching search. Tell us what you think about “Mike Solari, Paul Alexander Candidates for Cowboys Vacant OL Coaching Job” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL! ADVERTISEMENT Continue Reading Sportsbook odds for all Dallas Cowboys games Reader Survey Want to help make Inside The Star better? We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device. > Take the survey now Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.). Advertisement Advertisement Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. 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