A few years ago the Dallas Cowboys had little choice than to go with Doug Free at right tackle. Injuries had forced their hand when they threw Free out to play his first extended minutes in the NFL, and he did well. So well that he was rewarded with a big contract after the 2010 season worth 4 years and $32 million.
Things haven’t exactly worked out so well for Free since then and Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns may have been his worst game ever. He was beaten for four sacks and caused his quarterback to be hit many more times. He also leads the NFL in penalties with 10.
To be fair Free is re-adjusting to playing right tackle after playing left tackle last year but this is not what the Cowboys paid for. Fans want answers to why Free’s play has slipped the past two seasons and Jason Garrett tried to answer that question yesterday.
“It’s a technical thing,” coach Garrett said. “It’s a demeanor thing. He just has to keep working on it and doing a better job and that’s really across the board up front and that’s really throughout our football team…And oftentimes up there, it can be a dogfight, too. So you’ve got to play with that demeanor where you’re going to bite the guy a little bit and be firm and not let him push you back into the quarterback.”
Garrett wants more fight from Doug Free and that is a bad sign. Offensive linemen are often the nastiest people on the football field so when a coach talks about a player needing more “bite” to him there is something wrong. The demeanor of a linemen is to whip the person the person in front of you and if that isn’t what the Cowboys are getting with Free then maybe they should move on without him.
Perhaps the Tyron Smith injury is a blessing in disguise because it gives the Cowboys a chance to look at a young player they like in Jeremy Parnell. Dallas gave Parnell an extension before the season because they think he’s got potential and the only way to know about a player is to see him play. If he does well, maybe a bookend of Smith and Parnell is not far off?
I don’t care how it happens but the Cowboys need their offensive line to be much better if the they want to play better on offense. Doug Free is a big part of that group and he needs to get some fight back because barking but not biting is very dangerous in football.
Doug Free needs to keep Tony Romo defender free in order to give the Cowboys a better chance to win. Enough growling and barking Doug, It’s time to bite.
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