What is about to go down on Sunday in Washington between the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys is probably the worst possible combination of circumstances that the Cowboys could face. Washington brings in arguably the best defensive line in football and the Dallas Cowboys will roll out arguably the worst offensive line in football on Sunday.
It's the perfect storm. A category 5 hurricane is about to confront the Cowboys offensive line. They see it coming and there's nothing they can do about it. Disaster looms.
Washington boasts an absolute treasure trove of dangerous and dominating weapons along the defensive line. Between Ryan Kerrigan (arguably the most underrated player in the NFL), Da'Ron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, and Chase Young, the Washington Football Team has five guys who would be starters on the Cowboys defensive line. One could argue you'd take those five over pretty much every defensive lineman you have on the Cowboys and that includes DeMarcus Lawrence. That's just how good these guys are.
Montez Sweat is tied for 12th in the NFL in pressures with 22 and his three sacks is tied for the team lead with veteran Ryan Kerrigan. 2020 first overall pick Chase Young has stood out through the first six weeks of the season as well, racking up two sacks and has been the Washington Football Team's highest-graded defensive lineman per Pro Football Focus. He's been everything the Football Team could have hoped for when they selected him first overall.
Along the interior, Da'Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen have been disruptive. They've combined for three sacks, but lead the team in Pro Football Focus' “stops” metric, which measures plays that “constitute a loss for the offense.” Payne and Allen are a force on the interior, especially with teams having to pay so much attention to those guys on the edge.
With Zack Martin ruled out for week seven as he remains in the concussion protocol, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line features just one player who was projected to be a starter prior to training camp; Connor Williams.
Pardon me if I have a hard time putting much confidence in this offensive line to slow the Washington Football Team's defensive line. Marcus Mosher and Landon McCool of the Locked On Cowboys Podcast called this week's matchup between the Cowboys offensive line and the Football Team's defensive line the biggest mismatch in the NFL and it's hard to argue that. The talent and experience disparity weighs heavily toward Washington.
Kellen Moore, Mike McCarthy, and Andy Dalton will have to come up with a gameplan that works to get the ball out of Dalton's hands as quick as humanly possible. This is going to be a game where the Cowboys offense needs to be methodical and risk averse. They need to take calculated risks down the field, but only when they provide max protection for Dalton. Otherwise, offensively, this week is going to be a lot of short passes to Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. Also expect to see a lot of Dalton Schultz on the comeback, box out route.
The Dallas Cowboys' offensive line has an uphill battle in the trenches on Sunday. It's unlikely that they'll win this matchup unless the coaching staff creates a gameplan that doesn't require them to block for long or doesn't provide extra blockers in the formation. Andy Dalton has to go into this game looking to get the ball out quick and that still might not be enough.
It's a mismatch of epic proportions and the only reason the Cowboys still have a shot to win this game is because the Washington Football Team's offense is as underwhelming as the Cowboys defense. If the Cowboys are going to come out with a win, they'll need the Cowboys offensive line to control the line of scrimmage, at least a little bit. Otherwise, it's going to be a long day for the Cowboys offense and the nightmare that is the Football Team's defensive line on paper may be the reality on Sunday.