Amidst a Dallas Cowboys offensive line with several question marks stands a (likely) future Hall of Fame guard with an incredible career to his name. Finding durable, talented, and consistent offensive linemen is very difficult in this league, and that’s what the Cowboys have in Zack Martin.
In eight seasons in the NFL, the guard has earned seven Pro Bowl nods (he only missed in 2020 when he was out for six games) and five All-Pro selections. Martin is part of the Hall of Fame’s All-2010’s team, and he’s only missed nine total games in his career. Dallas LT Tyron Smith has also been one of the best offensive linemen in the league, but he certainly doesn’t have the same durability as Martin.
This isn’t the only way Martin differs from his teammates.
The Cowboys led the league in penalties last year with 127 total penalties, averaging out to 7.48 flags per game. A ton of those penalties came on pre-snap infractions or holding penalties on the offensive line. However, it wasn’t Martin who was constantly getting flagged.
According to the team, the 31-year-old is the only offensive lineman in the league to have fewer holding penalties than Pro Bowl nods. In eight years, Martin has only five holding flags called against him. That is a miraculous stat.
Cowboys G Zack Martin has more Pro Bowl selections (7) than holding penalties (5) in his career
Another interesting point about this fact is that none of the five holding flags came in pass protection. That is truly quite a feat.
Maybe offensive line coach Joe Philbin should have his guard do some coaching and discipline work with the line. Many of the players on the current predicted starting line, like Terence Steele and Tyler Smith, are taking on new positions. Mistakes are likely going to be made, but we already know that penalties can cost this team games. We saw this in the first preseason game when Dallas committed a dismal 17 penalties in an embarrassing loss to the Broncos.
It’s got to be frustrating for Martin to be so disciplined and also be on the most highly-penalized team in all of football. He is truly everything you’d want out of an offensive lineman, and Dallas is lucky to have him. Mike McCarthy knows that. When the head coach was asked about this stat in a recent press conference, he commended the veteran guard for the rare achievement:
"“That’s unbelievable. … His performance is obviously in the Hall of Fame status, in my opinion. He’s got a lot of football left, but his consistency is clearly one of his best attributes.”"
In a league where offensive linemen aren’t often lauded, Martin is well known as a steady great at his position. We don’t know when he will get that gold jacket, but it will be well-earned when he does.