Is the Cowboys’ offensive line good enough to win NFC East?

Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

In a recent episode of “NFL Total Access” a group of analysts along with Dallas Cowboys‘ reporter Jane Slater used a segment to talk about where the NFC East teams could land in terms of win total. NFL Media’s first analytics expert, Cynthia Frelund, was breaking down what Dallas’s chances are of winning the NFC East. Sadly, Frelund believes the Eagles have the upper hand in the division this year. But why? She thinks the offensive line is a huge factor.

“When I look at this… it’s nothing to do with Dak Prescott. It’s nothing to do with CeeDee Lamb It’s to do with what’s not there. The O-Line is a problem, and they didn’t solve for it,” Frelund said.

The analyst isn’t wrong. In 2021, the Cowboys running game and passing game both struggled because the offensive line was either moving further back due to penalties or unable to hold off defensive lines long enough for Prescott or running backs to have time to make moves. That was before the losses of both Connor Williams and La’el Collins. The only offensive line additions Dallas made this offseason were in the draft. Counting on rookies to fill those crucial spots is certainly a risk.

Frelund also added, like many others have, that the Eagles will have the upper hand because Philadelphia did make significant changes to their roster to help improve in the offseason. Because of this, she predicts that Philly’s total win projection is around 10.0, while the Cowboys are almost half a game behind at 9.6.

NFL Total Access analysts believe the Cowboys’ offensive line is a huge problem holding the offense back

While many were quick to point the finger at Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott last year, those two cannot do what they do best without protection and help from their O-Line. One cannot be successful without the other. The Dallas offensive line isn’t the powerful front it used to be in years past. It feels like ever since Travis Frederick retired, the position group has struggled to find a solid center and grouping.

Another important note that Slater pointed out was that the Cowboys seem to be putting a lot of pressure on rookie Tyler Smith to make this offensive line better. However, at OTAs on Wednesday, Smith was seen working out with the second team. It’s certainly still early, but you’d like to see a guy who is likely going to be thrown into the lineup on Week 1 be ready for a starting position.

Another concerning fact from Wednesday is that veteran Tyron Smith sat out practice with back tightness. Smith is an excellent offensive lineman, but his age and accruing injuries over time are starting to become a major issue. Can Tyron Smith remain healthy enough to have the impact he needs to have in 2022? Again, it’s still early to make any meaningful judgments in May.

But, if the Cowboys potentially have to play other teams in the NFC East without Collins, Williams, and Tyron Smith, Prescott and his offense will be hard-pressed to find success. There are great receivers and running backs available. But if the quarterback doesn’t have enough time to make a throw and the backs can’t even make it out of the backfield, Dallas is going to seriously struggle in a division they swept in 2021.

Next. A Realistic Cowboys' 2022 NFC East Outlook. dark