As the regular season approaches, the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line is causing some serious worry throughout Texas.
After a disappointing 23-6 loss Sunday to the San Francisco 49ers, you can almost hear loud Texas voices screaming to fire Jason Garrett, get rid of the inconsistent Tony Romo, and kick Jerry Jones out of the GM position. Everything is bigger in Texas, though, including concern for the 2015 Cowboys. Still, Cowboys fans need to take a big Texas breath and calm down about 2015. Except maybe for the Jerry Jones thing; he needs to leave the GM office and head up to the owner’s box for good.
Despite the two losses, we really haven’t seen the true Cowboys. The offensive starters have yet to take a single snap together, and many of them have not played at all. Romo didn’t take a single snap in week one and Dez Bryant spent the entirety of game two on the sidelines, presumably nursing his bruised ego after being punched in the face by Ram’s rookie CB Imoan Claiborne earlier in the week. Even when Garrett does let his starters play, he is stingy with play time; Romo only threw one pass yesterday, and the two uninjured offensive linemen only played a few series.
While this is frustrating for Cowboy’s fans, it is a difficult strategy to argue with, especially in light of Jordy Nelson’s catastrophic ACL injury Sunday. Besides, everyone knows that Tony Romo is can throw a pass and Dez Bryant can make acrobatic catches; the preseason should be about evaluating potential starters and backups. This plan appears to have paid off because it has revealed a gaping hole in Dallas’ offensive line.
Three of the starting offensive linemen missed Sunday’s game due to minor injuries, which isn’t a huge cause for concern because all of them are expected to return by the September 13th opener against the Eagles. What is concerning is the dismal play of the backups, all of whom are one injury away from being starters. As we all know, playing on the offensive line is a dangerous job, making it likely that one or more of these backups will see at least limited play time this season. This is concerning, especially if you saw Darren Weems and rookie La’el Collins misread defenses so poorly that it resulted in an injury to backup QB Brandon Weeden. Weeden is being treated for a concussion, and the hope is that he can return to play soon.
Garrett has yet to pick a starting running back, which hasn’t been helped by the play of the offensive line. It is difficult to choose between three players that almost never get blocking or open space to run. Joseph Randell did manage to rush for 36 yards on seven carries Sunday. This is not telling of overall ability because Darren McFadden is still shaking off the dust after a training camp injury, and Lance Dunbar did not make a single rushing attempt. However, he did catch Romo’s only pass, but, unfortunately, slipped and fell right afterwards. It also didn’t help that NaVorro Bowman was returning from an injury he suffered in 2013 and was on a mission to destroy every running back in sight.
The new NFL relies on passing, and we have seen Tony Romo’s ability to make great throws. The problem is effective passing relies on a good offensive line to prevent sacks and make the run game a valid threat. Right now, the Cowboy’s have that line, but if a few of the starter’s go down, Dallas could be in big trouble.
NOTE: I was asked to write this article after some Cowboys fans commented on my previous article about The Eagles. I realize that this article might not be as positive as that one, so I will end this on a positive note: Jason Garrett is a redhead. Though I may be a bit biased, I remain convinced that redheads can do anything right.