As previously noted, the Dallas Cowboys‘ offensive line has had its share of issues this summer.
They have had injuries at right and left guard that has forced them to go into experimental mode along the front, and have had two signings fail.
The experimenting, according to team owner Jerry Jones, seems to have stopped and Jerry likes the unit that started last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, going as far as to say that Doug Free at right guard can be a “fixture” and that he likes a starting line of Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary (when he gets back from injury), Travis Frederick, Doug Free and Jermey Pernell.
Honestly, if this is the team’s line going into the season, it could very well be the reason they don’t go far in 2013.
Not since 2008 has the team had a solid offensive line, and that line was great. Flozell Adams, Leonard Davis and Andre Gurode were all Pro Bowlers. Now for Cowboy fans, that seems like decades ago. The difference between the line that year and in Dallas over the last two seasons are like night and day.
Obviously, with the injuries the team has dealt with along the front, it’s hard to truly criticize the shuffling and the experimenting, because that is all you can do when most of your starters are injured. But it isn’t hard to come to the conclusion that this line won’t succeed in the regular season.
Jones also said in that same breath, talking about the current line, that the team is now less interested in bringing in veteran Brian Waters, strictly based on the way Jones thought Free played against the Bengals. And to comment a little bit on the Waters situation, I don’t know why the Cowboys are so hesitant to sign him. Sure, he hasn’t played in 18 months, and he is 36, but the last season he played in the NFL he was a pro bowler. In fact, he’s been there six times in his career and was an All-Pro. Anytime you can get a guy of that caliber, you do it.
Now back to Free.
To be honest, I didn’t see what Jerry saw. Free looked slow off the ball, slow out of his pulls and he completely whiffed on some blocks. Pernell was much the same. He has been a career backup, and it showed. He was overwhelmed when he was bull rushed, and whiffed on quite a few cut block attempts, as did Free.
Leary has looked solid in the preseason, and Frederick has looked decent as well. And at this point I would concede that Free is probably the better option at guard than Mackenzy Bernadeau.
Maybe Jerry is being positive because he wants to instill some confidence in Free and Pernell, as the owner and general manager, he has to be positive.
But the line didn’t look that great as a whole. Smith is really the only one that I trust as being a consistent, productive player.
The Cowboys have a ton of talented players on offense and defense that would give one the impression they could go far this year. But honestly, if the line isn’t productive, it could be another long season for America’s Team.
Jake Carapella is a Dallas Cowboys writer for RantSports. Follow him on twitter @JKCSports1.