Thursday, August 19, 2010

Depth Perceptions

The Cowboys are now without 2 starting linemen. Kyle Kosier is going to be out about a month.. maybe missing the first 3 regular season games, and coming back after the Cowboy's bye on weak 4. With Marc Columbo out a few more weeks, this exposes a huge liability - depth at offensive line. Montrae Holland is a veteran that can fill in, but beyond that, there is no "Doug Free"s behind him. The rest are young, some rookies, and potentially a huge liability on the field during a regular season game. I had been hoping that Mike Tepper would excel, but I don't think I've read his name once on the team writers blogs or in other reports.

If you're an undrafted rookie at an NFL camp, and your name is never mentioned in the media reports - odds are that you are not going to make the team. It's still possible for that type of guy to develop and eventually make an NFL roster, by going to Canada for a couple years possibly and standing out, but it's highly doubtful it would be for a team like Dallas. The Cowboys are just different than most NFL teams, and they typically develop talent in their own system instead of plucking guys from obscure places.

I understand why the team drafted Dez Bryant with their only first round pick. He's quite possibly the best pure athlete in the '10 draft class, and if you assume the Roy Williams experiment is over, pairing a T.O. type receiver with Miles Austin could be dominating. Talent like that creates problems for defenses, loosening up the running game for a guy like Felix Jones. Bryant strikes me as a player destined for a police blotter, but if he can stay away from the clubs, he might turn out to be what people expect.

But drafting a receiver in the first round means that we're still starting an offensive line that are all 31 years old. Clearly that's not past a player's prime, especially on the offensive line where experience means more than pure running speed. It just means that knees and ankles are more prone to injury. It's not going to help to have The Flash and Superman as your receivers if your quarterback is constantly seeing blue skies.

Jerry and Wade have built a really good team, but it's a really good first string team. Beyond that, we go from 13-3 to 8-8. It's valid to criticize them for not developing young offensive linemen. Yes, I know.. Doug Free - total credit to the owner and coaches for getting a guy into their system, and helping him explode on the field. I don't expect every guy they draft in the 6th round to turn into another Free, but they simply have got to get better at solidifying the backup spots at all positions.

There is no backup at the center position. Seriously.. they were planning to have Kosier backup Gurrode at center, and then have Holland take Kosier's spot.

This is all very concerning to me. Back in the '90s, when the Cowboys were winning Super Bowls with Aikman, Emmit, and Irvin, they had a big dominating offensive line that played every snap and kicked the shit out of defenses. It's as much luck as anything else that they stayed healthy, but the way the game is played now, players are bigger and faster, the rate of injuries must be increasing. I'd like to see a study on injury rates in the NFL over the last 30 seasons. That would be interesting to see.

If the Cowboys have backups playing a lot of snaps this season, their hope to contend for the Super Bowl is in serious jeopardy. Doug Free is starting this year, so he can't come in off the bench in the middle of the season and actually play better than the guy that was starting. That won't happen with this current group of prospects.

If there's something to criticize Jerry for, that's it. He's fixed the things I was bitching about the last couple years... Flozell Adams.. Roy Williams (the safety, not the receiver), T.O., Pacman Jones, etc. Now he's got to start looking to the offensive line for next year because all those guys are going to be 32.

Well, it all assumes there will be a next year.. with the way the negotiations with the NFLPA is going, who knows if there will even be a season.

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