The Dallas Cowboys had one of, if not the best offensive line, but what happened?
It has been proven time and time again. Having a great offensive line will more than likely result in having at least a good offense. This played a role in how good the Dallas Cowboys offense has been over the past decade.
The Cowboys are heading into the 2020 season with one of the top lines, despite losing All-Pro center Travis Frederick due to retirement. The team also placed right tackle La’el Collins on injured reserve, meaning there are two holes in the lineup compared to previous seasons.
Dallas had time to adjust to losing Frederick, grooming Joe Looney to take over as the starter at center. This comes after Looney replaced the top talent in 2018. While Frederick is a big loss, having three other top talents (well now two) remain on the line are expected to minimize any step backs.
Filling Collins’ hole at the right tackle position is a difficult task for the team. While there was time to adjust and there was a clear replacement for Frederick, Collins’ absence comes fairly close to the start of the season, and with more questions.
Dallas did have two backups that would be able to fill in for the short-term, but they are now injured and have been waived by the team. Swing tackles Mitch Hyatt and Wyatt Miller both suffered serious injuries, and both would have had a shot to start while Collins is gone.
Instead, Cameron Erving, who was signed this past offseason, will be put into the lineup. The former first-round pick is a versatile lineman that played at center for the Cleveland Browns, then he played left guard and left tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs.
He has a good amount of starting experience with 42 starts to his name. The question is how well will he play at the right tackle position, something he hasn’t played yet.
Should Dallas Cowboys fans be concerned?
I would not be worried about how Joe Looney will play this season. While his 2018 season was rocky, he is expected to be much better this time around.
I would be concerned with how Erving steps in at right tackle. It is a new spot for him, and he has a history of taking penalties. In 14 games in 2018, Erving committed 12 penalties but dropped it to four penalties in 13 games last season.
The good news is that a change to the IR rules means Collins can come back sooner than previous seasons. Rather than being out for a minimum of six games, he will only be required to miss three games.
This means that Collins can return for the Week 4 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, just in time to line up against star defensive end Myles Garrett. I’m sure head coach Mike McCarthy would feel more comfortable having Collins lining up rather than Erving.
The next question would be if Collins would be ready to return after three weeks. CowboysSI.com reported that he was having issues with conditioning early in training camp, which turned into a hip issue.
This may be something that he must play through once he returns to the team, which is not a good sign for the Cowboys. It is starting to look like the 2018 season that saw quarterback Dak Prescott get sacked 56 times.
That season, Dallas lost Frederick for all 16 games, left tackle Tyron Smith missed three games, right guard Zack Martin missed two games, along with left guard Connor Williams missing three games.
So far this season, Frederick is gone for the season and Collins is gone for at least three games. Not the best start to the season.
It is a cause for concern that more injuries can occur as the season goes on, along with Collins battling through his hip ailment. In a season where the Cowboys look like a Super Bowl-caliber team, injuries throughout the team, and more notably along the offensive line, may cost them.
Hopefully, much like in 2018, the Dallas Cowboys can somehow find a way to make it into the playoffs despite injuries. From there, anything can happen.