#70 Zack Martin
Zachary Edward Martin was born on November 20, 1990 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Martin is an offensive guard for the Dallas Cowboys in the National Football League. He played his collegiate career at Notre Dame before being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Zack Martin attended high school at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. He compiled quite an impressive resume during his tenure in high school and excelled in several sports.
During Martin’s sophomore and junior years he starred on the basketball team and opposing fans gave him the nickname “The Butcher” due to his style of play. Martin also competed in track and field as a discus thrower and a shot putter.
Zack Martin gained national attention, though, on the football field. He helped lead Bishop Chatard High School to back-to-back 3A State Championships in 2006 and 2007, his sophomore and junior seasons. The team finished with a 12-3 record in 2006 and a 14-1 record in 2007. In the 2006 season, Martin showed his versatility by playing both on the offensive side of the ball and on defense as a defensive tackle. He accumulated 73 tackles and five tackles for a loss on the defensive side of the ball during the 2006 season.
He earned back-to-back first-team all-state selections as a junior and senior. His most impressive season might have been his senior season when he was able to tally 114 pancake blocks. He was ranked by Rivals.com as the 22nd best offensive tackle in the nation and turned down scholarship offers from Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan before deciding to continue his playing career at Notre Dame.
Martin was also selected to play in the 2009 Under Armor All-America Game in Orlando, Florida. The Under Armor All-America Game is an All-Star game for high school seniors and was created to showcase some of the top recruits around the nation. Other notable NFL players that were invited in 2009 were running back Trent Richardson, quarterback Matt Barkley, wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, and linebacker Manti Te’o.
Zack Martin enjoyed a redshirt season in 2009 with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. After his redshirt season at Notre Dame, Martin went on to have one of the most decorated careers in the school’s history for an offensive lineman.
In 2010, he played in all 13 games. One of only 11 players for the Irish that was able to accomplish that feat that season. Again, in 2011 he played in all 13 games at left tackle for the Fighting Irish. Then, in 2012 he was named as one of the four team captains and helped lead the way to a 12-0 undefeated regular season. He also helped the team earn a trip to the 2013 BCS National Championship Game against the Alabama Crimson Tide, which they lost 42-14. Upon the completion of the season he decided that he would return to Notre Dame for his last year of eligibility.
In his final season at Notre Dame, Zack Martin was once again named team captain. This was quite an honor because he became only the 18th player in school history to be named team captain for a second time. Martin once again showed his durability and started all 13 games, setting a new school record for starts with 52 for an offensive lineman.
Even more impressive, though, was the fact that Martin was named MVP of the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl after Notre Dame defeated Rutgers 29-16. Zack Martin became the first offensive lineman to be named MVP of a bowl game since 1959 when a center from Penn State, Jay Huffman, earned that distinction.
Over his collegiate career, Zack Martin earned the honors of being named two-time All-American, four-time team Guardian of the Year, the two-time ESPN.com All-Bowl Team selection, and three-time first-team All-Independent (2011, 2012, 2013). Those are impressive accolades for anyone to claim coming out of college, and one of the reasons why he was drafted so highly in the 2014 NFL Draft.
2014 NFL Draft
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Zack Martin in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft with the 16th overall selection.
It was said that the Cowboys were targeting linebacker Ryan Shazier out of Ohio State if he had been available, but the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him one pick earlier (15th overall). Then, it was rumored that Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones was set to draft quarterback Johnny Manziel, and even went as far as writing his name down on the draft card, but was ultimately convinced that Martin was the right player to select.
Zack Martin was not only the right selection, but he was able to come in and solidify the Cowboys offensive line along with the other former first-round draft picks Travis Frederick (2013) and Tyron Smith (2011). The Cowboys decided to convert Martin from a collegiate left tackle to a right guard in the NFL, but he has the versatility to play all five positions along the offensive line.
As a rookie, Zack Martin was thrown into the fire and started at right guard for the first practice of organized team activities (OTA’s). He replaced Mackenzy Bernadeau, who started the two previous seasons at right guard for the Dallas Cowboys.
Upon completion of his first year in the NFL, Martin was one of only four rookies to make the 2014 Pro Bowl. He was also voted into the AP 2014 All-Pro Team. He was the only rookie to make the team and the first for the Cowboys since running back Calvin Hill made the team in 1969. If that’s not impressive enough, Zack Martin was the first offensive lineman to make the AP All-Pro Team since Dick Huffman in 1947.
I don’t know how much stock you might put into it, but Pro Football Focus (PFF) gave Martin an Honorable Mention in their 2014 All-Rookie Team.
Martin’s addition to the roster in 2014 helped create one of the best offensive lines in the entire NFL. Martin & Co. helped lead the way for 2014 rushing leader DeMarco Murray, who ran for 1,845 rushing yards and scored 13 rushing touchdowns.
Zack Martin managed to avoid the sophomore slump and again was named to the Pro Bowl for a second time in 2015. Despite losing DeMarco Murray to the Philadelphia Eagles, Martin and the rest of the offensive line helped Darren McFadden finish fourth in the NFL with 1,089 rushing yards. Martin was also named second team All-Pro by Associated Press after the completion of the 2015 season.
Things couldn’t have started better for Zack Martin in the NFL and his presence along the offensive line has given the Dallas Cowboys one of the best units in the entire league. He has started 32 of the possible 32 games since entering the league and that statistic alone should be encouraging considering the troubles the Cowboys have had with injuries over the past several seasons.
There are high hopes that Martin and the rest of the offensive line will be front and center once again for a dominant rushing attack in the upcoming 2016 season. With Ezekiel Elliott now the favorite to receive the majority of carries, Zack Martin & Co. should be licking their chops for the chance to impose their will against opposing defenses around the NFL.
Zack Martin is currently the 12th highest-paid out of 66 right guards in the entire NFL. He is entering the third year of his rookie contract and is averaging $2,241,950 per season, and guaranteed to earn $8,967,798. Martin is scheduled to make $2,445,763 in 2016 and $2,853,390 in 2017. The Dallas Cowboys can then decide if they want to sign him to a long-term contract or pick up his fifth year option.
Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 1-1, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. With such an inexperienced roster, early season growing pains were expected, and likely should be still as the team comes off their first win to play in Seattle on Sunday.
Through a season opening clunker in Carolina and hard-earned divisional win against the Giants, the Cowboys have exceeded already high expectations on defense.
With the currently 0-2 Seahawks, Lions, and Texans awaiting Dallas, the time is now for Scott Linehan's offense to hit their stride. It will take more than a five week assessment to determine if the Cowboys are truly playoff contenders for 2018, but it could take even less than that for Cowboys Nation to realize this team is fighting an uphill battle at QB and WR.
Following Dak Prescott's 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin against the Giants, the Cowboys punted on four of their remaining seven drives. The Cowboys did a better job mixing up their early down play calling to remain ahead of the chains for most of the night, but even still their execution was lacking. Finishing three of ten on third downs, the Cowboys didn't sustain the type of originality on offense that earned them an early cushion.
Thankfully, the Cowboys turning back the clock to 2016 on a clinching touchdown drive of 14 plays would be all the defense needed. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would both convert a pair of first downs on the ground. The Cowboys took a 20-3 lead, and more importantly the game clock down to 5:45 with an eight minute and 23 second march.
As such, the Cowboys offense is an enigma. With the return of Brice Butler, the team is currently carrying seven wide receivers and four tight ends.
On defense, the Cowboys are expecting reinforcements in Xavier Woods, Randy Gregory, and David Irving to further bolster this aggressive, blitzing unit in the coming weeks. For the offense, Dallas must make the most out of the unknown depth they have, without any drastic change in style around the corner.
The Cowboys record under Prescott proves they're at their best when Dak is efficient. The ceiling for a new-look Cowboys offense built for Dak is not as high for this reason. Through just two weeks, it's clear that the Cowboys offense will be as good as the sum of its parts - instead of relying on any individual talents.
Cowboys' record when Dak Prescott ... Doesn't throw an interception: 20-4 Records at least a 100.0 passer rating: 15-1 Commits no turnovers: 18-1
After a strong preseason from rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, the third-round pick has played less than half his team's offensive snaps through two games. Cole Beasley has seemed to regain his connection with Prescott, snagging a team high nine catches so far. Terrance Williams has been a non-factor, and the same is surprisingly said about FA acquisition Allen Hurns.
Regardless of what the Cowboys do over the coming weeks, a few narratives and lingering questions about the team feel evident. With the defense set to tee off against the Seahawks sub par OL this week, Rod Marinelli's unit will still likely not receive the credit it deserves heading into week four.
With the task at hand being maintaining their standing atop the division, the Cowboys must also be out to prove they can sustain success without a consistent passing game.
All of this to effectively say, the Cowboys are going to Seattle expecting to control the game on defense. To finish off Russell Wilson in his home opener (already at 0-2), it will take a sharper performance for a full four quarters on offense too.
A win at the Seahawks might not mean as much as it has in past seasons, but in improving the Cowboys record to 2-1 on the way back to AT&T Stadium, it could be all the confidence they need to understand the NFC East is theirs for the taking while continuing to truly find their identity.
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Snap Judgments: Cowboys’ Linebacker Depth Stands Out in Win
The Dallas Cowboys evened their record at 1-1 with their 20-13 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night. The Cowboys linebackers had a huge impact on the outcome of the game and it wasn't just the guys at the top of the depth chart either. America's Team got contributions from guys at the bottom of the depth chart.
What a difference a year makes.
The Dallas Cowboys worked hard this offseason to fix the linebacker depth that failed them in the 2017 season. When Sean Lee or Anthony Hitchens -- or both -- were sidelined with injuries, Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, and the rest of the linebacker group struggled to keep up with opposing offenses. Specifically, in games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers the major depth inadequacy was revealed.
One year later, the Dallas Cowboys have a linebacker corp that allows them to go five deep with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Joe Thomas, and Damien Wilson all making considerable contributions for the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday nights victory.
Here are the final snap counts for the five linebackers that played a defensive snap against the Giants.
- Jaylon Smith - 57 (84%)
- Sean Lee - 41 (60)
- Leighton Vander Esch - 28 (48%)
- Damien Wilson - 17 (25%)
- Joe Thomas - 14 (21%)
Jaylon Smith led the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night with 10 tackles (seven solo) and played really well roaming sideline to sideline and making plays. He was tasked with the difficult assignment of containing New York Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley and allowed four catches for 41 yards in his coverage area. Smith was credited with three stops or plays that result in a "loss" for the offense (per Pro Football Focus). Smith led the team in snaps for the second straight week.
Sean Lee had a better game on Sunday night than he did in week one. PFF credited him with four stops, four tackles and an assist. Lee allowed two catches for 24 yards on two targets to Wayne Gallman and Evan Engram. Lee pulled his hamstring at the end of the game and was held out the rest of the way for precautionary reasons. He'll be an interesting name to watch on this week's injury report. Age catches up with everyone, but hopefully Sean Lee can stave it off for at least another season.
Rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch saw a big bump in his snap count from week one (17) to week two (28). The rookie played well too. As many players seemed to struggle with tackling Saquon Barkley, Vander Esch was able to bring down the number two overall pick on several occasions. Vander Esch had seven solo tackles in his second career game.
Damien Wilson was the surprise player of the night. He had three tackles on the night, including one on special teams, a sack, and a forced fumble. Though his time on the field might have been short, his impact was certainly felt. His forced fumble led to a field goal that gave the Dallas Cowboys a 13-0 nothing lead. Wilson was also credited with two stops on the night.
Joe Thomas has been a good player for the team off the bench as well. Though he only had one tackle, it was good enough to be credited with a stop. He's a player that can play both the WILL and MIKE linebacker spots. As the fourth or fifth linebacker on the depth chart, Thomas is a great role player.
Other Snap Count Notes
- Taco Charlton may not have started, but he played 84% of the team's defensive snaps. That number is up from 73% in week one. Charlton had a sack, a hit, and a hurry as well as three stops on the night.
- Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns led the wide receiver group in snap percentage from week one to week two. The big difference at wide receiver was seeing Michael Gallup take the third most snaps on offense instead of Deonte Thompson. Thompson still had the bigger impact with four catches for 33 yards on five targets including two for first downs.
- Geoff Swaim was the far and away leader at tight end in snaps with a 94% snap count. Only the offensive line and Dak Prescott had more snaps on the night than Swaim. He's the TE1 for the team, though he didn't have an impact in the passing game.
- Rico Gathers only played five snaps, but there was concerted effort to get him the ball as he had two targets in his five snaps. He may not have come away with a catch, but it's a start.
- Jourdan Lewis continues to be the odd man out on defense. He only played one snap.
- Dorance Armstrong saw a snap jump from week one to week two going from 28% of the defensive snaps to 40% of the snaps. He had two hurries and an assisted tackle.
Why Cowboys Need Tavon Austin More Involved Offensively
Two games into the 2018 season and I'm still not quite sure what to make of the Dallas Cowboys offense. To me, there is a void of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. With the exception of Ezekiel Elliott and maybe Cole Beasley, there is a lack of consistency that is really hurting this offensive unit. Changes need to be made or someone needs to step up in a hurry.
Enter Wide Receiver/Running Back Tavon Austin.
Just looking at Tavon Austin you would probably put him in the category with Cole Beasley, a small/diminutive WR who should strictly be playing out of the slot. That's typically where the smaller WRs get placed in the NFL because teams would like you to believe that due to their diminutive stature, they can't succeed on the outside.
Well, guess what? The passing game is changing around the league and we're starting to see more of these smaller/quicker WRs earn more prominent roles. The reasoning is these types of receivers are generally known to be better route runners, who are more capable of creating separation on their own.
The Dallas Cowboys must be buying into this philosophy because during the offseason they pretty much revamped the entire wide receiver position with that thought at least in the back of their minds. They didn't bring in a lot of "undersized" WRs, but they did focus on adding pass catchers who can run better routes and create separation on their own.
Wide Receiver Tavon Austin is one of those pass catchers Dallas brought in to improve their passing game. Austin really hasn't been utilized as much as I thought he would in the first two games, but he is starting to look like a dynamic weapon the Cowboys can't ignore much longer.
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Last Sunday night against the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys finally decided to utilize Tavon Austin's speed in the passing game. The result, a 64 yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Dak Prescott.
Austin's speed to stretch the field both vertically and horizontally is something the Dallas Cowboys need to incorporate more of into their offensive game plan. Forcing opposing defenses to have to cover more of the field should create more opportunities for big plays in both the running and passing game.
Stretching the field vertically with Austin's speed will open up things up underneath in the passing game. It takes at least one, possibly two defenders out of the play, leaving nine to defend against 10 Cowboys offensive players. That benefits Ezekiel Elliott in the running game and the other WRs running those underneath routes.
Stretching the field horizontally mostly helps the running game, which is great news when you have a dynamic running back like Zeke. Utilizing Austin's speed on jet sweeps or reverses forces the edge defenders from crashing down on inside runs. It also forces the linebackers to hesitate more because they have to respect the threat of both an inside or outside run.
Against the Giants, Tavon Austin turned three touches into 94 total yards, two receptions for 79 receiving yards and one rushing attempt for 15 yards. Imagine if the Cowboys were to give him about 10 touches a game. It seems like such a simple thing, but I think it could have a huge impact (for the better) for the entire offense.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys need to get Tavon Austin more involved?
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