Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line to Blame for Offensive Struggles

Cowboys Offensive Line
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The Dallas Cowboys are 8-4 and sitting at the top of their division, however, their offense has not been playing at the level everyone has come to expect. Many people want to attribute this to Ezekiel Elliot and the run game, or Dak Prescott having a midseason lull. However, the true issue lies within the Cowboy’s offensive line. While Kellen Moore has been the coach to receive the most criticism the last few games, it’s the offensive line coach Joe Philbin who deserves most of the criticism.

Dallas Cowboys Offensive Line to Blame for Offensive Struggles

No Continuity on the Cowboy’s Offensive Line

Since training camp, coach Mike McCarthy has insisted that continuity would be the most important thing to developing a solid offensive line. The Cowboy’s offensive line lineup is far from continuous. The ideal scenario that most saw coming was a line consisting of Tyron Smith, Connor Williams, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins. This is a unit that would get most people excited.  Two All-Pro Lineman with another pro-bowl caliber Tackle and quite serviceable pieces in between.  This lineup has started zero times this season. Martin got Covid to start the year. Then La’el Collins got suspended for six games and Tyron Smith hurt his ankle. Connor Williams was benched for Connor McGovern due to him leading the league in penalties, and on top of that, the coaching staff has shown a strong disdain for La’el Collins, insisting that Terrence Steele continues to start. In some cases, they even swapped them outplay to play. This is the absolute opposite of continuity, and it has taken a toll on the team.

Run Game Struggles

The Dallas Cowboys began the year running the ball very well, they were one of the top rushing teams in the NFL. During this recent slump, the Cowboys have had extreme trouble running the ball. While it is true Ezekiel Elliot is dealing with a nagging knee, that does not explain the drop-off. Tony Pollard has averaged a similar Yards Per Carry as Zeke. The biggest difference between the beginning of the year and now is the Cowboy’s offensive line. The Cowboys’ midseason swap at left guard is a big reason why the line has not been good at run blocking lately. Connor Williams led the league in penalties, so the Cowboys replaced him with McGovern. Yet, Connor Williams was excellent at getting to the second level and blocking. Connor McGovern does not have that agility and plays recognition. Therefore, holes have not stayed open for the running backs. While it may not have mattered much if Travis Fredrick was playing center, second-year Tyler Biadasz is already being helped by Zack Martin, and so McGovern is left alone to pick up the first block, then move to the second level and block a linebacker.

Pass Protection Issues

The pass blocking has not been any good either. According to ESPN, the Dallas Cowboys rank 24th in pass block win rate. This unit used to be top of the league in pass blocking but with a carousel of players playing on the line, it is hard to have any consistency. Because of this, Dak Prescott has been under pressure, and when he is not, he anticipates pressure that is not there. Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner did a phenomenal film review of the Cowboys vs Saints performance, and one criticism he showed was related to Dak’s footwork and release. Lately, he tends to escape from the pocket and rush throws even when there is no pressure. Dak was used to the pocket collapsing quickly and thus he has been getting rid of the ball prematurely without setting his feet or going through all of his progressions. This could also be a reason why Dak Prescott had so many tight-window throws in week 13.

Dak is Healthy

The latest NFL Rumor has been that Dak Prescott is struggling because he is playing hurt, however, based on the last few games he put on tape it does not appear to be that way. Dak can move around and make strong throws. His ankle, calf, and shoulder all look healthy. He just lost faith in his offensive line. When on 105.3 The Fan earlier this week, they asked Jerry Jones who the starter at Right Tackle would be. He refused to answer directly but said “Both of them will play a lot”.  It surely seems that continuity is not a priority for the Dallas Cowboys anymore on the offensive line. The team needs to get Dak to trust his protection while also creating lanes in the running game. It will be interesting to see how they approach this going forward. The Cowboys are lucky to face an injury-riddled Washington defensive line this weekend. This is a good game to regain confidence in the unit and propel them into the playoffs hot.

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