Dallas Cowboys: The single most concerning position on offense in 2020

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

One position stands out as the most concerning on the Dallas Cowboys offense this season

When gazing upon the glory of the Dallas Cowboys roster, one can’t help but notice magnificence of the offense. Rated by Football Outsiders as the NFL’s second best offense in 2019 (24.2% DVOA), all they did was find ways to improve even further this offseason.

With Team 40-burger in full effect, optimism is high regarding the Dallas Cowboys scoring prowess this coming season. But one position on offense isn’t so inspiring. In fact, one position is downright concerning. That position is center.

Top to bottom the Dallas Cowboys offense is stacked. Even their depth is an impressive sight to beyond. All except the dead center of their offensive line that is. With Travis Frederick’s unexpected retirement, the backbone of the Dallas Cowboys offense was placed in jeopardy. The passing game and running game are both based on dominance at the line, and even if Fredbeard wasn’t his usual dominant self in 2019, he offered stability and leadership to the O-line all season long.

The good news is the Dallas Cowboys have plenty of pedigreed candidates to compete for the job in 2020. Former 2018 starter Joe Looney offers the floor and 2019 3rd round pick Connor McGovern along with 2020 4th round pick Tyler Biadiasz offer the ceiling.

Adithya Prabakaran broke down the battle a few days ago, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the players competing for the center spot. I highly recommend catching up here: Predicting the winner at Cowboys center

The center position doesn’t get the respect it deserves around most fan circles. As the most intellectually demanding position on the line, the center is leaned on to read the defensive line and make blocking assignments accordingly.

According to Paul Zimmerman’s The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football, the average Wonderlic score for a center is 25 – the second highest score in the NFL. It’s safe to say Freadbeard’s wonderlic score of 34 will not be easily replaced (scores for those competing to replace him are unconfirmed).

Dallas Cowboys safety net

Of the free agents the Dallas Cowboys retained, Amari Cooper received most of the attention; and rightfully so. The Dallas Cowboys offense became what it is today because of him and even if he’s had some disappearing acts and injury concerns, he makes the offense potent.

But slipping under the radar is the re-signing of Joe Looney. The interior swing lineman was Travis Frederick’s replacement once before, and while he rated as below average during that season, he wasn’t terrible (I know, that’s not exactly inspiring but the safety net isn’t supposed to be inspiring).

I broke down Joe Looney’s play last week here: Will Joe Looney be a Good Center for Dallas in 2020?

Looney has shown he can stand up to most average DTs in the NFL, but he’s also shown he’s going to struggle against the NFL’s more talented DTs. It’s safe to say LA’s Aaron Donald and Philly’s Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox would eat him for lunch one-on-one. Luckily for him centers rarely take on DTs one-on-one.

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Pressure up the middle is the single most disruptive thing a defense can do to stop an offense. Passer performance drops into the cellar when it comes up the middle and a deficiency at center has the potential to disrupt the Dallas Cowboys in a big way and at the most inopportune time.

Cowboys fans should feel good about having an insurance policy like Looney in the ranks but they shouldn’t feel good about him manning the starting center post all season. Everyone should be rooting for Options 2 and 3 since they offer the highest ceiling.

None of this is to say the Dallas Cowboys screwed up not drafting a center sooner in the draft, either. As I said at the time, they were prepared for Frederick’s retirement even if they didn’t see it coming. Most teams would kill to have three viable candidates fighting for the only unsettled position.

All things considered the Dallas Cowboys are in a very good place on offense heading into training camp. They only have one unsettled position there and that position has a handful of players more than capable of handling the duties.

Grading the Cowboys 2020 Draft: Breaking down the picks. dark. Next

Defense on the other hand, has a few more question marks…

  • Published on 05/28/2020 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 05/28/2020 at 10:55 AM