The Dallas Cowboys most disappointing offensive lineman is…

La'el Collins #71 of the Dallas Cowboys tries to protect Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
La'el Collins #71 of the Dallas Cowboys tries to protect Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

For a variety of reasons, the offensive line has been one of the most disappointing units on the Dallas Cowboys, so today we look at which individual specifically is the most disappointing

For the Dallas Cowboys, the offensive line was supposed to be dominant this season. The entire team was built around a run-heavy ball-control offense that bled the clock and limited possessions. This was to help Dak Prescott and the offense as well as Rod Marinelli and the defense.

As we all know, that plan blew up in our faces when Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillian-Barre syndrome late in training camp. Suddenly without arguably the best center in football, the Dallas Cowboys were forced to reset their expectations for this offense.

Sadly it didn’t even end there. Zack Martin would go on to suffer a knee injury that substantially bothers him to this day. And Tyron Smith would, once again, be plagued with back issues.  It caused him to miss last week already and could keep him from action again this Thursday against New Orleans.

While all of these injuries to Dallas’ best offensive linemen are disappointing, and in Frederick’s case, unexpected, injuries are a part of the game and not exactly a surprising development. So for the sake of this discussion, let’s take a moment to discuss which offensive linemen’s PERFORMANCE is the most disappointing this season…

The candidates: LT Tyron Smith, OG Connor Williams, C Joe Looney, OG Zack Martin, RT La’el Collins

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When not injured, Zach Martin and Tyron Smith are the very best in the game. And what this season has taught us is even when nursing injury these two blue-chippers are still among the best in the NFL. So we can safely say, Smith and Martin’s performance this season has not been the most disappointing on the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line.

Joe Looney may be a far cry from All-Pro Travis Frederick, but he’s no slouch either. If anything Looney has exceeded expectations this season. Not only that but Looney seems to be progressing every week and looks like he may be a legitimate Day 1 starter in this league.

Note: From my novice film review, Looney is improving in nearly every part of his game. His power, movement, reach blocks, and his ability to handle games/stunts is all improving.

Connor Williams has been disappointing but that probably has more to do with lofty expectations rather than underachievement. I loved Williams as a prospect and even mocked him to Dallas back in January . 

Williams hasn’t dominated the guard position as many expected and a lot of that had to do with his body mass (or lack thereof) and overall strength. His’ ceiling is still sky-high (and I still see him as a offensive tackle in the NFL), he just needs more time to build up his strength. But in a league where rookies rarely start on the offensive line, it’s hard to consider Williams all that disappointing.

Let’s be clear, I’m not saying Collins is bad. There are probably 20 teams who’d love to have Collins as their starting RT.

None of these guys are close to as disappointing as La’el Collins is. Like many people, I expected La’el Collins to explode this season. After suffering through an understated learning curve last season, Collins put together a great final few games in 2017. He showed Pro Bowl ability as a well-rounded right tackle and made all of us excited for his 2018 season.

The addition of offensive line coach Paul Alexander seemed like a good pick-up for Collins’ development too. With more “power” blocking, Collins could utilize his speed and athleticism in space. Unfortunately Collins struggled with Alexanders technique (as did everyone else on the Dallas Cowboys O-line), and Alexander was sent packing over the bye week.

Whether it was the Alexander experiment gone wrong or us reading too much into those final games last season, Collins has not been a fraction of the player many of us thought he’d be this year. Pro Football Focus (subscription required) rates Collins as the 47th tackle in the NFL. It’s not a terrible rating considering there’s 64 starting tackles in the NFL but it’s nowhere near that Pro Bowl potential we saw for him in the 2018 offseason.

Let’s be clear, I’m not saying Collins is bad. There are probably 20 teams who’d love to have Collins as their starting RT. I’m saying Collins just hasn’t performed close to our expectations this season.

Even if you don’t value the grading at PFF, you have to trust the tape. If you’re like me and anxiously await the All-22 every week, you’ve probably seen these struggles with your own eyes. Luckily there isn’t one thing hindering Collins, save for technique, so the shift back to Marc Colombo’s technique could help Collins realize that potential he flashed last December.

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Injuries are obviously disappointing but outside of those, it’s La’el Collins’ lack of progression that’s the most disappointing this season. The good news is he still has time to correct it and be that pro Bowl player we all pegged him for.

  • Published on 11/28/2018 at 18:01 PM
  • Last updated at 11/28/2018 at 13:58 PM