It’s no secret that the Cowboys offensive line is dreadful. The Cowboys should be focusing on how to upgrade the entire right side of the offensive line.
Doug Free and Mackenzy Bernadeau have both been disappointing at their positions. They both directly impacted Tony Romo’s inability to stay upright.
That’s got to change.
One position that seems to have everyone concerned that doesn’t involve Bernadeau or Free is the center position. There was some draftniks out there who strongly believe the Cowboys will be looking to upgrade Phil Costa and Ryan Cook.
I’m not sure that’s the case.
Costa is coming off an injury-plagued season but was just given a two-year extension. Ryan Cook, Costa’s replacement, was also given an extension through 2014. Those logistical moves by the front office don’t suggest to me that they are going to be making a move at that position.
That might actually be a good thing.
I’ve been studying Costa who has been the target of a ton of criticism. Honestly, I expected to find what everyone else suggests, that he is awful. Instead, I’ve found that he’s actually quite stable when healthy.
Here is what I mean:
In this play the Cowboys will run the ball with Felix Jones in the “A” gap to the left side.
As Tony Romo hikes the ball, Costa quickly reads the defensive tackles and gets to the second level. Here he finds himself isolated with Jameel McClain.
Costa does a great job initiating contact and then using his body to as a blockade to maintain the hole. Costa’s ability to maintain his block and understand his assignment leads to a Cowboys touchdown on this play.
In a separate play, Costa shows his nastiness as a mauling run-blocker.
Here you see the pre-snap motion as the Cowboys prepare to run the ball right up the gut with DeMarco Murray. Romo recognizes the blitzing linebacker (#52, Ray Lewis) and makes the appropriate adjustments.
As the ball is snapped Costa immediately identifies Lewis and engages him. Costa is able to hold up at the point of attack.
At the end of the play Costa drives Ray Lewis back five yards and completely took him out of position to make a tackle on DeMarco Murray who rushes for a gain of 10 yards.
What you get with Costa is a guy who doesn’t do anything great. He has decent footwork, he isn’t an elite blocker and he isn’t bursting with athleticism. However, he’s a guy who grinds away and gets the job done in game situations.
In 2012, the Dallas Cowboys allowed 2.5 sacks per game. In games where Costa played (3) they allowed only 3 sacks total. Additionally, in games where Costa played DeMarco Murray averaged 6.6 yards-per-carry.
Very basically put, the Cowboys are a better team with Costa in the lineup. It’s in the tape and the numbers.
Costa has his liabilities, sure. He could improve all over the place but he’s still young and has upside. The Cowboys are looking at major upgrades all along the line. Lets not waste a pick on a spot you don’t need too.