The sudden retirement of center Travis Frederick was shocking to many fans. But how big of a loss is this for the Dallas Cowboys?
At first, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and went along with everyone congratulating Frederick and reflecting on his great career. I thought about how many NFL draft experts ripped the Cowboys for trading back in the draft picking up an extra day two pick then selecting a center that many had a third-round draft grade.
I thought about how much of a hammer Frederick was in the run game prediagnosis. I thought about how a man could move another man backward against his will time and time again. Frederick wasn’t just a brute as he showed how cerebral he was at making all of the adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
The Cowboys lost Frederick for the entire 2018 season when he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome which is a rare disorder where your immune system attacks your nerves. It’s no surprise that Dallas allowed 56.0 sacks that year, the most since Travis Frederick was drafted, while only giving up an average of 29.0 a season compared to when he was available
With all of this information, I was pretty upset to hear that there were rumblings of Frederick’s decline this past year. I was furious to think a player who was selected to the Pro Bowl and fought hard to come back and play in the NFL could have his name associated with bad play.
I immediately went straight to the game film. I was let down by what I initially saw and continued to see as the season progressed. You cannot just give a simple answer when watching a players game film on the season but the overall synopsis was that the Travis Frederick we used to know did not come back.
In Week One of the 2019 NFL season, Frederick was involved in a handful of stalemates. This is where the defender nor the offensive player gain any ground against each other. I did see Frederick get pushed back on more than one occasion and saw he did not handle a zero technique, which is when a nose guard lined up right over the ball, well and was often pushed into the quarterback’s face.
In Week Three against the Miami Dolphins, I can see where Dallas uses more of a zone scheme that plays into Frederick’s best interests. He is still good at walling off defenders but I noticed that he does not hold his blocks very well anymore. I saw the dolphins were attempting to bring pressure up the middle by bringing an extra defender and it worked several times.
You can tell in this game that Frederick knows what to do but is just a tick late when moving. At this point, I’m still not convinced. I attribute this to the player being away from the game for a year and will get back to his normal self.
By Week Seven it’s evident that this is who Frederick is now. With the Philadelphia Eagles coming to town, I was almost sure the eagles were going to test the Cowboys up the middle but surprisingly they don’t start off that way. Philly stays in their base defense without lining up over Frederick.
In the first quarter, Dallas gets off to a hot start and I partly attribute it to the eagles not testing Frederick. By the second quarter, you can see the eagles defense change and they start applying pressure on Frederick.
In the second quarter, Dallas attempts a quarterback sneak on third and short only to generate zero movement in the middle which results in no gain. On fourth down the Cowboys move away from their usual up the middle run call and use a dump pass to get the first down. By now, I am convinced that Dallas is shielding the player.
You can see glimpses of the player we have come to know. But those were far and few between each play. By now I’m thinking to myself how the rest of the divisional opponents would attack this Dallas offense.
This kind of play continues into the season and if I am a Dallas Cowboys scout, I am somewhat happy that Frederick decided to call it a career. Instead of playing mediocre football, which is something the player is not accustomed to, he decided to retire.
The die-hards like myself would have said that Frederick would have gotten better by having an offseason where he could only concentrate on football. That could be true, but the tape doesn’t lie. I’m glad but saddened that I went back and watched film and now understand why Frederick is no longer in the NFL.
If I am a scout looking at film, the review on the player would read like this. Frederick was a tick late off of blocks and getting to the second level. The player he was responsible for on any screen almost always made the tackle. Frederick could not sit on a bull rush and was mostly pushed back.
His intelligence in making the line calls is still top-notch but his physical play just diminished. Dallas might get someone who can be the physical type of player Frederick used to be but the player’s intelligence is what will determine how big of a loss Frederick will end up being.
I wish Travis Frederick good health and fortune moving forward. Frederick will, in my opinion, be the best center to ever play for the Dallas Cowboys and thank him for all of the great memories.