One of the most repeated clichés in the NFL is that you will go as far as your quarterback takes you. Which is true most of the times but not always, as some mediocre QBs with Super Bowl rings on their fingers demonstrate. However, with these Cowboys the secret for once, won’t rely in the shoulders of its polarizing quarterback, but in the performance of its promising offensive line.
It’s weird to be so excited about an offensive line. Those guys never score a touchdown, never grab a headline, or make us win in our fantasy league. But football is, and always has been, a game that is won and lost in the trenches. Quoting Al Pacino, football is a game of inches. And nobody give you those inches for free, you have to fight for them, and the guys who do that are those boring linemen. If they win that fight, Tony Romo will have time to do what he does best and won’t have to worry about his back; if the guys in that offensive line perform as we all are expecting, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant will shine and get the headlines.
There is no defense to help us out. This offensive unit will have to do it all by itself, if this Cowboys have any chance to go back to the playoffs. But everything start with those three first round picks that, together, give form to one of the most impressive lines in the league. If Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zach Martin, play up to their first round pedigree, the Cowboys will dominate games and Murray will have a breakout season. If they falter, no matter how great their skill players are, the Cowboys will have a lot of trouble to just stay in the games.
I think, by now, we already know what we have in Tony Romo. A great statistics quarterback. A leader that can keep its team in most games and even win some by himself. And he is also the guy who can make the most stupid of mistakes at the worst possible time. He is not Brady or Manning. But he is better than most of the quarterbacks in the NFL, and that should be enough. Besides, he has never been behind such a good offensive line. When back in 2007, the Cowboys had three Pro-Bowlers on its offensive line, Tony Romo led them to a 13-3 season and a divisional loss against the eventual NFL champions, the New York Giants.
Dez Bryant seems to be ready to take the league by assault. He looks stronger than ever, and he looks like the vocal leader this team has so many times needed. It’s hard not to think in Michael Irvin when seeing him barking at defenders and fighting with such passion for every ball in a meaningless preseason game.
DeMarco Murray went to his first Pro Bowl last year, and he has shown that can carry the load and control games. He just needs that the coaching staff commits to the running game. With those linemen, I think this year we’ll see much more of Murray in the fourth quarter of games.
Jason Witten is Jason Witten. What can you say of a guy that has already booked a place in the Hall of Fame. Sure, he’s a bit older, but that won’t stop him of having another 70-plus receptions season. Moreover, I believe Gavin Escobar will push for playing time and become a threat in the red zone.
Then there are the likes of Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris and Lance Dunbar. All of them are good role players that perfectly complement the big-name guys. Player by player, is hard to find an offense in the league so filled with talent at every position.
But then again, everything starts in the trenches. Especially with that depleted defense, the 2014 Dallas Cowboys will go as far as its offensive line takes them.