The final Week 1 NFL preseason game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders was the definition of the word “ugly.” Fortunately for Dallas, that was mostly because of the makeshift offensive line the Cowboys fielded. All three centers on the Cowboys’ roster missed the game with injuries, so second-year guard David Arkin, who had never snapped a ball in his life before two weeks ago, had to play virtually the entire exhibition in an unfamiliar position. That resulted in a familiar sight for the Dallas faithful: quarterback Tony Romo getting up off the ground wincing.
Twitter and other social media outlets were flooded with comments about how dreadful the Cowboys’ offensive line played and “dreadful” was one of the more polite terms used. However, when you take into consideration how many offensive linemen were injured and/or missed this entire preseason game, Dallas’ front line wasn’t that bad.
Phil Costa, Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski all missed the exhibition and while Costa is listed as the starting center, he has no business in the Cowboys’ starting lineup. Nagy and Kowalski, however, should both be starting up front; Kowalski should be at center and Nagy should be at right guard. Whether those two will actually start once the season begins is another Rant entirely, but the fact neither of them were on the field against the Raiders was a major factor in the poor play of Dallas’ offensive line overall.
Arkin also didn’t know all the plays at center and you can’t blame the guy because he had literally 10 days to learn the most complicated position on the offensive line. After some horrific snaps in practice, he didn’t both any against the Raiders, but he missed a blocking assignment on a screen pass that resulted in a Romo sack. That’s something an actual center wouldn’t have missed.
The Cowboys’ offensive line definitely needs work; no one is arguing that fact. However, Dallas fans shouldn’t be in a state of utter panic after the preseason win over the Raiders. Now, if everyone is healthy and the offensive line still plays like this, then you can literally start the sirens and flashing red lights.