Nothing divided Dallas Cowboys fans this offseason quite like the discussion around this year's starting left guard. Some argued that La'el Collins shouldn't have been moved to tackle, while others thought free agent and former first round pick Jonathan Cooper was the answer.
Others were Team Chaz Green, believing he was the best option to move inside the left guard out of the three.
The coaching staff ended up siding with Green, starting him last Sunday night and rendering Cooper inactive. Green has faced a lot of criticism throughout his young career, specifically due to his inability to remain healthy for either of his two seasons.
After his performance Sunday night, it is clear that as long as the injury bug doesn't bite him this year, he is the best option to start at left guard.
Let's take a look at the film and analyze how Green played a little deeper.
Something I was worried about with Green at guard was combo blocks between he and center Travis Frederick. Frederick hasn't had much work with Green on his left side, especially since Green missed a solid chunk of the preseason and training camp.
An offensive line must work as a unit, especially in a zone blocking scheme such as the Cowboys'. If one member is even a step behind the others the entire play can be blown up.
This play comes on the first drive of the game. Dallas is in 11 personnel and running outside (or wide) zone to the right side. While it is a zone play, meaning that each linemen isn't explicitly assigned a “man” to block, Green and Frederick are still responsible for the nose tackle and the first linebacker which comes across the center's track.
So, Green and Frederick must work a combo block, with Green overtaking the nose and Frederick getting to the second level. As you can see, there aren't many problems on this rep. Green takes over the nose and buries him, as Frederick shakes free and cuts off the backside second level defender.
A specific area Chaz Green excelled in on Sunday night was pulling. On this play, Green pulls playside and kicks out the end man on the line of scrimmage. Green has to immediately flip his hips and get across the line of scrimmage before Frederick, who is set to pull through the lane for the first linebacker, gets there.
Once Green meets the edge defender, he must decide whether to kick him out or log him down the line of scrimmage. In a perfect world, he will kick the defender out and get his head inside, just as he does here.
Green's pull opens up just enough of a running lane for Ezekiel Elliott to squeeze through and come up with a solid gain.
Chaz Green also did a nice job of pulling up to the second level as we see him do here. To me, Green looked more athletic and comfortable in his pulls than Cooper did during the preseason. The only problem will be if Green is forced to miss time due to some injury, forcing yet another switch to this already changed-up unit.
The main area I see a need for improvement in Green's performance going forward is with working up to the backers off combo blocks. Earlier we saw him do a good job of overtaking the down lineman to allow Frederick to get up, but Green must do a better job of cutting off linebackers himself.
On inside zone, this was less of a problem. But on outside zone Chaz Green had his share of issues.
On this snap we see Chaz Green and Travis Frederick working against Damon Harrison and the MIKE linebacker. Green is responsible for posting Harrison to allow Frederick to overtake before getting himself up to number 93, BJ Goodson.
Green is a step too slow when getting off the combo block, and also takes a bit of a poor angle to the backer. If he was to make this block, there was a huge hole for Elliott who may have been off to the races.
Overall, Chaz Green had a very impressive debut at left guard, especially considering the level of competition which he faced. It will be interesting to see how Green does against more athletic speed rushers down the line, but he certainly held his own against the maulers across the Giants' defensive front.