After struggling early in the season, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line dominated the Washington Redskins’ defense on Sunday.
When the Dallas Cowboys offensive line lost two starters this offseason, many wondered how those losses would impact the unit’s overall performance this year. And after some initial struggles, it now appears the Cowboys scariest positional group is back to their dominating ways.
This offseason, Dallas lost longtime starting right tackle Doug Free when the 10-year veteran surprisingly up and retired. Not so surprising was the fact the Cowboys also lost their starting left guard, Ronald Leary, after he signed a massive four-year, $36 million deal to join the Denver Broncos in free agency.
That left the Cowboys with two major voids along their offensive line to fill. But Dallas seemed content with the changes, as they still had their three perennial Pro Bowlers, center Travis Frederick, left tackle Tyron Smith and right guard Zack Martin, to build around.
The Cowboys first move was to switch former starting left guard, La’el Collins, to right tackle. And it’s a drastic change in play-style that the 24-year old is still adjusting to, even seven games into the regular season.
As for the void at left guard, Dallas had high hopes that former third round selection Chaz Green would win that role. But Green has proven to be far too injury-prone to be anything but a backup.
After some initial shuffling and some early struggles, former first round bust Jonathan Cooper has secured the starting job at left guard in Dallas. And his confidence, and subsequently the quality of his play, appears to be getting better and better with every outing.
And that goes for the Cowboys offensive line as well. This unit has had to slowly rebuild it’s chemistry. And as the season has wore on, the level of their play has risen.
In fact, against the Washington Redskins’ highly ranked run defense on Sunday afternoon, the Cowboys offensive line was able to dominate to a level that left running back Ezekiel Elliott literally untouched at times.
"“Ezekiel Elliott gained 113 yards before first contact in Sunday’s win, the most of his career and the second straight week he’s had at least 100 such yards. Elliott has averaged 3.7 yards before contact his last two games, after averaging 3.7 yards per rush overall in his first five.” – ESPN Stats & Info"
When it comes to NFL offensive lines, chemistry can be more important than individual talent. And for the Dallas Cowboys, that chemistry is just now starting to return after the personnel losses they suffered in the offseason. And the difference is showing up in the win/loss column.