Dallas Cowboy Problems Begin and End with the Offensive Line

Perhaps no position on the Dallas Cowboys was more scrutinized in 2012 than that of the offensive line. Yes, Romo was criticized plenty. He always was and he always will. He’s the QB for the Dallas Cowboys for goodness sakes. It comes with the territory. But for those who really know – the offensive line is where all the problems began and ended for the Dallas Cowboys in 2012.

May 10, 2013; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan gives instruction to center Travis Frederick (70) during rookie minicamp at Dallas Cowboys Headquarters in Irving, TX. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Change

The Cowboys, who in recent years scrapped their aged (yet decorated) veterans, also waved goodbye to long-time offensive line coach Hudson Houck. They replaced Houck with Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach, Bill Callahan.

Bill Callahan was greeted with open arms and open wallet. They gave Callahan the freedom and power they rarely give head coaches much less assistant coaches. Quite simply, Callahan was tasked with rebuilding the Dallas Cowboys offensive line. He has been changing the blocking scheme to a zone based scheme, adding more elements of it over time. He even had direct say on the free agent acquisitions and draft picks he felt could excel in his blocking scheme.

In 2012 he brought in both starting guards (from free agency) and worked to develop Tyron Smith at LT.

Despite their poor play the Cowboys lone upgrade to the offensive line in 2013 was at Center. With a first round pick (and a reach at that) they selected Travis Frederick from Wisconsin.

Note: If you want to draft an offensive lineman from a university, UW is usually a pretty reliable place to go. A reach or not, Frederick is a good player and will be an excellent Dallas Cowboy. Without ever taking a snap, Frederick moved to the top of the depth chart ahead of former Cowboys starters Phil Costa and Ryan Cook.

Unfortunately, problems existed at more than one position on that starting offensive line. It’s safe to say four of the five starting positions needed upgrading and one upgrade alone would do little for helping the unit as a whole. Why then, can Cowboy fans expect an improvement on the offensive line if three of the positions are still garbage?

For the next week we will discuss this topic in a three part series on offensive coordinator Bill Callahan’s offensive line. Monday morning, in Part One, we will review the status of the offensive line and evaluate their 2012 performance

In Part Two on Tuesday, we will look at Bill Callahan the coach and explain his zone blocking scheme and how it differs from what Cowboy fans are accustomed to.

In Part Three on Thursday, we analyze the competition going to training camp and the expected winners and losers of camp. Most importantly we will answer – Why the Cowboy’s O-Line will improve in 2013

Topics: Bill Callahan, Dallas Cowboys, Travis Frederick

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