Rotation at Left Guard Could Be the Cowboys Best Option ⋆
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Rotation at Left Guard Could Be the Cowboys Best Option

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Sophomores: OL Chaz Green

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Rotation at Left Guard Could Be the Cowboys Best Option

Louis DeLuca / The Dallas Morning News

Rotation at Left Guard Could Be the Cowboys Best Option

The position battle at left guard might be the biggest and most pressing question facing the Dallas Cowboys this offseason. Since it seems that the Dallas Cowboys are committed to La’el Collins at right tackle, there is a hole to fill at left guard. Enter Jonathan Cooper and Chaz Green.

Check out Kevin Brady’s film study on Cooper.

G Jonathan Cooper Returns to Cowboys for 2017

Cleveland Browns offensive guard Jonathan Cooper (64) plays against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Jonathan Cooper is a former first round draft pick who hasn’t been able to play to the level that his draft status requires. Cooper was an extremely athletic guard coming out of college, who was able to get out in space and lead the way in the running game.

Injuries have derailed his career to this point.

Now with his fourth team, Cooper is still trying to regain the form that made him the number seven overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2011.

Dallas Cowboys: Which Starting Positions Are Up For Grabs? 1

25 SEP 2016: Dallas Cowboys Offensive Tackle Chaz Green (79) [20412] during a NFL game between the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Cowboys won 31-17. (Photo by Ray Carlin/Icon Sportswire)

Chaz Green doesn’t come with as much draft hype as Cooper, but his third round status leaves him with expectations to start in the NFL.

At this point in his career he’s been functional in brief stints as a fill-in tackle, but has yet to find a way to stay on the field. Injuries took away his rookie season and most of 2016 as well. Sometimes, however, it just takes a bit of luck on the injury front for a career to take off. Just ask Sean Lee.

Cooper and Green figure to be the front-runners in the left guard competition. They have already received snaps with the first team offensive line.

What might suit the team best is a situational rotation of sorts.

Every team wants to have guys that you can plug into the lineup and can play in any situation, any down and distance, and at any time of the game. You want to set your lineup and roll, but that’s not how the NFL works.

I could see one of them becoming the regular player, but the team using both guys depending on the situation.

Let’s consider for a second that it’s late in the second quarter and the team is in the two-minute drill trying to score.

They’re in obvious passing mode, so why not have Green in the lineup as the left guard in obvious passing situations? He provides better pass protection with his experience at left and right tackle.

Green will need to show that he can hold up to the power rushes from interior defensive lineman. If he can, perhaps he’s your best option in passing situations.

On the flip side, say the team is in the fourth quarter and using their vaunted running game to milk the clock and not give the ball back. Looking at the two players we’re considering, who gives you the better run blocking?

On the interior, it’s Cooper. While he may not have the athleticism to be as effective in space anymore, he still has the physicality and strength to open holes for Ezekiel Elliott.

It’s unconventional to split snaps and have situational offensive lineman, and I’d argue that continuity would be a major deterrent to doing it this way. If the goal, however, is to get your best five lineman on the field at any given time, then Jason Garrett and the Cowboys coaching staff should consider this.

Garrett’s always talking about putting players in the best position to succeed. For Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper, this just might be it.

John Williams

Fantasy Football analyst for Inside The Star. You can follow me on Twitter @john9williams Send me your fantasy football draft, sit/start and add/drops questions.

5 Comments
  • Jess Haynie

    I love you, John, but this idea mortifies me. I think there’s a reason we haven’t seen this done through all the years of our football watching, and it’s that continuity and chemistry is such a vital part of offensive line play. I’d much rather live with the weaknesses that either guy may have in certain situations, like we have with Doug Free through the years, so that they can build their confidence and mojo with rest of the starting line.

    • John Williams

      Yeah, I don’t disagree. I’m a huge fan of continuity. With the Coaching staff. At positions where chemistry is important. It’s the one argument against this, even for me.

    • John Williams

      Oh, and I love you too.

  • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

    I have to agree with @jesshaynie:disqus on this one. There is no substitute for continuity. Even a lesser player can be a valuable part of the whole just because the men on either side of him know what he’s going to do and when he’s going to do it. Having said that, continuity along the line isn’t important on every play. Some plays, the line is designed to break down. There is some opportunity there for nontraditional things like this.

    • John Williams

      Yeah totally. It’s unconventional and unlikely to occur, and I agree that continuity is huge, especially along the O-line. Continuity is the one thing that would keep me from this to be honest. Just feel like there is a way to get both guys on the field and to play to their strengths.

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