Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys offense has strayed from their calling card power line. It’s time to return to 2016 style trench dominance.
Between drafting undersized Connor Williams (6-foot-5, 298) in 2018 to start at guard and Travis Frederick suffering health issues, the Dallas Cowboys have recently strayed from offensive trench dominance.
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott appeared on the scene as rookies in 2016. To their good fortune the Cowboys offensive line was stacked with sizable power blockers. The biggest difference between then and the last few years was at left guard.
In 2016, Ronald Leary (6-foot-3, 320) was a bull at left guard. Flanked by Tyron Smith and a healthy Frederick, the trio was a force to deal with for four quarters. Along with Zack Martin and Doug Free, Elliott enjoyed his highest rushing average (5.1 ypc).
The trade off in bigger size didn’t harm pass protection. 28 sacks allowed was also a respectable total. La’el Collins assuming Free’s right tackle spot has been a slight upgrade. But the clear departure has been an undersized Williams at left guard.
RETURN TO 2016 TRENCH DOMINANCE
While it’s yet to be seen how 2019 rookie Connor McGovern (6-foot-5, 308) will handle NFL talent, he was heralded as a power player coming out of Penn State. For Dallas to shift back towards overpowering opponents inside, he needs to get a starting look.
If McGovern proves to be a stronger presence than Williams without losing much in pass protection, the change should be made. Williams could then be groomed as the swing tackle. He’s familiar with playing the tackle position for years at Texas.
Along with swing tackle, Williams could also easily serve as a swing guard. Two years playing guard at the pro level would allow an easy transition back inside if needed to shift from tackle.
One positive going into 2020 should be the increased power of Frederick inside. This will be his first full tilt strength program since missing 2018 due to medical complications.
A stronger, better acclimated Frederick next to a more forceful McGovern could shift a much needed return to the brute force advantage the 2016 Cowboys were feared and respected for.
New head coach Mike McCarthy is very familiar with the wrath of the 2016 Cowboys power line. That group thrashed his Packers 30-16 in the regular season and gave them all they could handle in a 31-34 playoff loss, both times in Green Bay.