The Dallas Cowboys have adopted a more traditional approach, harnessing the prowess of their offensive line to achieve a remarkable 5-1 start. Chris Snee, a former All-Pro offensive lineman for the NY Giants, sheds light on what makes their resurgence so noteworthy and how it bodes well for Dallas’ prospects in the future.
Are the Dallas Cowboys the best team in football? I’m not quite ready to buy into that one.
But do they possess the most superior offensive line? It’s regrettable for this Giants fan to acknowledge…but yes, they do.
Flashback to my Week 1 LOCK. I correctly predicted San Francisco to beat Dallas, but my rationale was off the mark. I had mentioned that San Fran would dominate the pivotal battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. However, for those who missed the game, it was actually Dallas that outperformed the 49ers in the line of scrimmage.
Had it not been for a couple of interceptions thrown by Romo and Dallas deviating from their running game strategy to some extent, the Cowboys would have entered today’s crucial NFC East showdown with the NY Giants boasting an undefeated record. Ever since my 2012 NFC championship game against San Francisco, I’ve considered San Francisco the benchmark of defensive line play. However, I had never witnessed that San Francisco D-line being pushed back the way Dallas did in Week 1. That’s when I truly began to pay attention to the formidable linemen in Dallas. Their impressive performance has continued ever since.
I say “should” because he was the owner of the Cowboys when they assembled an offensive line that was not just dominant but also instilled fear and was considered one of the best ever. From 1992-1996, Erik Williams, Kevin Gogan, Nate Newton, Mark Stepnoski, Mark Tuinei and Larry Allen, all of whom the Cowboys scouted and brought into the league (with the exception of Nate Newton), paved the way for Emmitt Smith’s remarkable ground performance. They would combine to make 30 Pro Bowls during their careers. Emmitt Smith led the league in rushing 3 out of those 6 years, and go figure…Dallas went on to win the Super Bowl in those 3 years (92,93 and 95). Another fun fact, Emmitt’s rushing title in 1995 was the last time a Cowboys running back achieved that, and 1995 marked the most recent Super Bowl win for Dallas.
Come on, Jerry! I was hoping you wouldn’t figure it out, but it appears you have. Well, you actually haven’t. You had intentions to select Johnny Manziel in the draft.
I didn’t set out to bring lofty expectations to the current Cowboys offensive line. However, this year’s unit, consisting of Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, and Doug Free, has left such a strong impression on me, and I’m not someone who’s easily impressed. The fact that three out of these five linemen were first-round picks underscores the Cowboys’ commitment to investing in top-tier talent for their offensive line.
If it weren’t for Jason Peters in Philadelphia, left tackle Tyron Smith would be my pick for the best left tackle in the league. Watch Smith’s matchup with Jason Pierre-Paul today. Smith’s strength is evident by the way he punches and doesn’t give an inch when delivering these blows. His performance more than justifies every dollar Dallas invested when they extended his contract for 8 years this past offseason.
Tony Romo’s passing attempts per game haven’t been this low since 2007. Didn’t they go 13-3 that year?
Frederick and Martin weren’t the sexy picks, but having Manziel as your backup quarterback doesn’t secure wins. Selecting your starting center/right guard combo for the next 10 years will. These two have adapted to the NFL exceptionally quickly, which is truly remarkable. Typically, you’d anticipate some learning curves when starting young players, but in their case, I don’t see any weaknesses in their performance.
Ronald Leary went undrafted in 2012 due to a degenerative knee. A majority of NFL teams had evaluated him as a third-round prospect. Dallas took a chance on that knee and it’s paid off. Interestingly, a significant number of Demarco Murray’s cutback runs tend to exploit the gaps created behind Leary, particularly to the right.
All four of these starting offensive linemen are below the age of 25. These young talents need guidance from someone other than a coach to learn the ropes of being a professional. This is where Doug Free comes into the picture. Although he’s faced criticism over the years, I’m certain Zack Martin values the veteran presence by his side. Unfortunately, Free had to exit last week’s game due to a foot injury and is projected to be sidelined for a few weeks. It will be interesting to observe the impact of his absence on this unit.
In addition to their youth and strength, it’s worth highlighting that this unit is notably sizable, with an average weight of 318 pounds. This substantial size aligns well with the running style that the Cowboys have consistently employed during their recent winning streak, as previously discussed by Brady Poppinga earlier in the week here on FBF.
As a former offensive lineman who has been part of championship offensive lines, I’m most surprised by the rapid cohesion of this Cowboys group. It’s not easy to throw five linemen together and expect them to mesh immediately. Usually, it takes time. I can recall my own experience with the special 2006-2011 Giants offensive line, and it took us nearly a year before we reached our peak performance. Seemingly hit the ground running in August. That’s very impressive, and hints at a very high ceiling for this group.
DeMarco Murray is a freakish running talent, and has started this season at an incredible pace. He’s had six straight 100-yard games, and leads the league in rushing…by a lot. Over the next month, the Cowboys should continue to provide him with a steady diet of carries. He’ll have an opportunity to recuperate during the bye week and should be in excellent shape moving forward.
ony Romo’s passing attempts per game have reached their lowest point since 2007. Didn’t they go 13-3 that year? Oh yeah, that’s right, Jerry Jones opened his mouth before their playoff game against the Giants, provided bulletin board material and got booted from the playoffs.
I’d like to offer two simple pieces of advice for the Cowboys:
1) Stick to the run-first game plan you’ve used thus far that makes the best use of the impressive talent you’ve accumulated on the offensive line. You’ll find yourself in the playoffs.
2) Keep your owner away from the media!