Normally, offensive linemen do not get the credit they deserve. The average fan doesn't know their names, he doesn't know their assignments. The only time that fan even considers who each individual linemen is, is when they mess up.
From the moment he came out of Notre Dame and was selected “over” Johnny Manziel by the Dallas Cowboys he became a household name. While it seemed like a “conservative” pick at the time, selecting Zack Martin 16th overall yielded the Cowboys the best young offensive lineman in the entire league.
As good as Martin has been, I think as fans we tend to take him for granted. Now that the Cowboys are 3-1 and their rushing attack has reached new heights, I think it is only right to step back and appreciate just how good Zack Martin is.
Martin's ability to get up to the next level gives Ezekiel Elliott a clear path through the linebackers, and is left one on one with a defensive back. That is exactly how the play is drawn up, and if Cole Beasley had sealed off the defensive back a little bit better, this would have gone for a touchdown.
Once again we see Martin's ability to climb to the 2nd level and control a linebacker. His footwork really impressed me on this play. Taking a nice zone step, staying square while moving his eyes to the next level, Martin climbs easily before stoning the linebacker when meeting him.
Martin's ability as a puller is second to none. Due to primarily being a zone running team, Martin does not pull too often, but when he does get the chance to do so he always makes it worthwhile.
You see him pull here, getting up through the hole with excellent footwork and working directly off the hip of the play side double team. The linebacker tries to close down the hole, but Martin is able to get on him and drive him into the ground, leaving a huge gap open for Elliott to run through.
Martin is expected to reach the first play side defensive lineman on this play. Since the defensive tackle is line up in a 1-technique over the backside arm of the center, this is an extremely tough block to make.
Zack Martin takes a great lateral step, staying on track to cut off the 1-technique backside and allowing Elliott a cut back lane if needed. The 49ers defensive tackle helps Martin out by moving towards him on the snap of the ball, but it is still an impressive block nonetheless.
These “reel talks” tend to be somewhat negative at times, as I point out where the Cowboys went wrong the week before and where they must improve for the future. But this season has been fun so far, and I hope we can appreciate just how good some of these players, like Zack Martin, have been.