The Dallas Cowboys had a very good offseason in 2013 despite not having much cap room. They maneuvered around a bogus $5 million cap charge levied by the league last year and managed to make the team better with a few smart acquisitions. However, what they swung and missed on is improving the offensive line.
Drafting Travis Frederick was the only significant piece they added to an offensive line that was pretty bad last year and the position remains the team’s biggest question mark heading into the season. Going into the offseason one thing was clear, Dallas couldn’t afford to head into 2013 with almost the same offensive line group they ended 2012 with. Yet here we sit on the brink of training camp and as it stands now 4 of the 5 starters remain in place, with only Frederick being the only change.
The Cowboys do have options to work through in training camp to make the offensive line better this season and they hopefully they’ll see better play from some of the players who were backups or injured last season. Guard Ronald Leary seems to be one of the players the Cowboys are hoping makes a big leap forward after not playing during his rookie year. According to dallascowboys.com scout Bryan Broaddus, Leary has a very real possibililty of doing just that and unseating Nate Livings or Mackenzy Bernadeau of their starting job.
Other players the Cowboys are hoping will push for starting jobs are David Arkin and Kevin Kowalski, both of whom need to make a good impression to stick around in 2013. Let’s also remember that Phil Costa, who has been swept aside by Jerry Jones as the team’s starting center, can still win that job back and force the Cowboys to move Frederick to guard if needed. It’s not what the Cowboys want to do but if they are the best players for the job along the offensive line then Dallas would be wise to proceed with that lineup.
Perhaps the biggest question mark though, is at right tackle. The Cowboys had every opportunity to make a move in the right direction at the position this offseason and failed to do anything. They cut Doug Free’s pay and the team believes in Jeremy Parnell but Cowboys fans are still wondering why the team didn’t make a move to sign Eric Winston or Tyson Clabo? Both would have been instant upgrades over what the Cowboys currently have.
If Dallas could have signed either Clabo or Winston, the Cowboys would have had a much better group than they do now. It would have meant two new starting offensive lineman (with Frederick), along with a possible third in Leary. Couple those three players with budding star Tyron Smith and then the Cowboys would’ve had the makings of a better unit up front.
For now though, it appears the Cowboys are banking on the move to more of a zone blocking scheme and the offensive linemen having a better understanding of Bill Callahan’s style to improve as a group. It seems like wishful thinking but only time will tell.
The Dallas Cowboys offensive line remains the team’s biggest question mark heading into training camp,and hopefully the biggest misstep of the offseason doesn’t come back to haunt them in 2013.