Aug 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith (77) talks to guard Ronald Leary (65) during the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers in a preseason NFL football game at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
This area here is basically the clincher for the Cowboys.
So far, it’s clear that Dallas has a top-flight quarterback, and army of running backs and an opponent that’s not well-built up front or on the back end defensively.
Now comes the Dallas offensive line, widely regarded as the best young unit in the NFL.
The best part of this unit is that it’s already very good and it’s going to keep getting better in the coming years. A line that has three Pro Bowl players all under the age of 25 is just ridiculous.
I can’t see Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith having difficulty in this contest. Even if Pierre-Paul was available for this game, the odds would still favor Smith given the fact that the Cowboys don’t look to be in the market of throwing the ball 40-plus times. Smith’s run blocking ability is somewhat under-rated and this is one area that heavily favors Dallas.
The interior is just as good, with Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick now approaching his prime and likely not to face any learning curve moving forward.
Next to Frederick is Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin, who was startlingly good as a rookie out of Notre Dame last season. While I’ve been quite impressed by this franchise’s commitment to building a ‘great wall’ to protect Romo and launch a dominant running game, I expected this project to take a few years to finally materialize.
The virtually immediate impact made by this line is the result of a massive commitment to the positions drafted so early in three of the past four NFL drafts.
But what’s more, each of the selections made, concerning just the Pro Bowl talent acquired, have each been rock-solid picks – obviously no busts in this group.
It’s a mistake to overlook the presence of right tackle Doug Free, who’s run blocking surpasses his pass protection skills, but both of those areas are near a Pro Bowl level when this big, strong tackle is anchored on the right side.
Ronald Leary, the left guard, brings size and power for this running game that truly shocked the NFL last season, myself included. Leary was basically the 2012 version of rookie La’el Collins in that he was a high-priority undrafted free agent that owner and general manager Jerry Jones went out of his way to acquire. This has paid massive dividends only overlooked by the presence of the three Pro Bowl players also on the offensive line.
Youth, power, skill – the Cowboys have each of those elements in abundant supply on the offensive front. Even the best defensive fronts the Cowboys will face will have more than a handful of issues to deal with – remember how well the vaunted NFC Champion Seahawks defense fared against Dallas in their own backyard last season?
Well, the Giants don’t exactly have that.
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