Dec 8, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) scrambles against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
It’s an interesting time in the NFL as most of the news revolves around a few topics. You will hear a lot of analysts making speculative guesses regarding team’s success. After all, who predicted the Atlanta Falcons would fall from 13 – 3 to a 4 – 12 record or the Kansas City Chiefs could go from 2 – 14 to 11 – 5? Cowboy Nation, please take those predictions with a grain of salt.
Another big topic right now is the signing of draft picks to official contracts. Thanks to DeMarcus Lawrence’s signing, the Cowboys have all of their draft picks signed and ready for minicamp. The Cowboys rarely have to deal with hold-outs and every player can thank Emmitt Smith for that. Tight End Vernon Davis of the 49ers is currently holding out and Andre Johnson of the Texans isn’t attending the team’s mandatory minicamp.
In Valley Ranch, it seems that our backup quarterback situation is our biggest issue. You might think that Tony Romo is on the sideline laying on a gurney, while Jeff Heath, Dan Bailey and Chris Jones take turns at the quarterback position. Only in Cowboy Nation does the absence of a back up quarterback make national news. Usually teams in the NFL are trying to discover who their starting quarterback will be, but not us. We have the luxury of having the starter in place and we will be protecting Tony Romo with an offensive line consisting of three first rounders.
Instead of writing about a non-factor Kyle Orton, let’s look at why Romo will be around for a while. In an interesting look at offensive lines and sacks allowed, it’s remarkable to think that this group could be better at pass protecting.
Teams Ranked By Sacks Allowed
|San Diego Chargers|
|St. Louis Rams|
Taking a brief glance at the numbers, the Cowboys offensive line did a great job at pass protection. They allowed 35 sacks on 586 passing attempts and Tony Romo is an elusive quarterback. Romo helps to account for the low amount of QB Hits. With the addition of Zack Martin, the pass protection should improve which makes the offense more potent.
Of course, passing the ball hasn’t been a problem for the Cowboys. The Cowboys have been criticized for not running the ball effectively but statistics show they had one bad spot in 2013.
Cowboys Adjusted Line Yards And Ranking Per Rushing Attempt
Middle / Guard
You can see the complete chart here at Football Outsiders. The Cowboys picked up the fewest yards when running outside of Tyron Smith. This may explain why the Cowboys are placing Zach Martin at right guard instead of left. We should expect Martin to be the lead blocker on counter runs to the left which usually involves a pulling right guard. Who else would’ve expected the Cowboys would be ranked in the top ten in running plays to the other positions? I’ll give credit to offensive line coach Bill Callahan for that.
I know I’m a Cowboys’ optimist, but for those that believe that football is won and lost in the trenches, we have the arguably the best defensive line coach in Rod Marinelli. We have the highest regarded offensive line coach in Bill Callahan. We have a creative passing game / offensive coordinator in Scott Linehan joining head coach / play caller Jason Garrett that has created offenses that have put up incredible numbers in consecutive seasons. This team has gotten younger, stronger and faster. There’s no way I’m betting the 2014 Cowboys go 3 – 13.