Continuity along the offensive line is important. If a team is lucky enough to have five starters working together in the trenches all season, then that's a big win for their offense. The Dallas Cowboys haven't been so lucky. Last year, they were riddled with injuries that resulted in nine different offensive linemen starting for them throughout the season. But that's last year. This year is going to be different, right?
Unfortunately, things aren't starting out so positive for Dallas this year as they were without their All-Pro guard Zack Martin on Thursday night against Tampa Bay. And while Zack should be good to go for Week 2, more bad news has surfaced on Friday for the Cowboys' offensive line.
Obviously, this is not ideal. La'el Collins missed the entire season with an injury last year but has looked good in camp. Despite the Buccaneers having a great defensive line, Dak Prescott was only sacked once in the season opener. It was a breath of fresh air to have both Collins and Tyron Smith back on the field securing the edges, but sadly the joy is short-lived after hearing news of LC's looming suspension.
With the possibility of no Collins, the conversation around the Cowboys' water cooler now centers on whether Zack Martin should slide over to right tackle or play his original position at right guard. There are cases to be made for both. Martin is arguably one of the league's top guards, so keeping him where he dominates is certainly a plus. At the same time, he's pretty darn fantastic at tackle as well, so it really starts to become - where does the team's strongest backup offensive lineman lie?
Currently, the swing tackle job falls on either the veteran Ty Nsekhe or developing youngster Terence Steele. Cowboys' fans might not want to hear Steele's name mentioned in the discussion, but it should be noted that the second-year former UDFA continues to show improvement. Having him play right tackle isn't as bad as some might make it out to be.
On the other side of the argument is the recent play of reserve guard Connor McGovern. He started at right guard against a good Bucs interior defensive line. While defensive tackles Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh were wreaking havoc all night, McGovern actually held up pretty well.
McGovern played a lot better than second-year center Tyler Biadasz on Thursday night, and I strongly believe that if Connor Williams didn't have such a fit snapping the ball in preseason/training camp, that Williams would be the team's starting center with McGovern being the team's starting left guard. The Cowboys seemed persistent in finding a way to get him on the field, and this recent development with Collins might do just that.
With LC out, the Cowboys could examine the fronts of their opponents on a week-to-week basis and decide where Zack Martin is needed most. If they have to go against players like Fletcher Cox (Week 3) or Leonard Williams (Week 5), then play Martin at his normal position at right guard. If they're facing Joey Bosa (Week 2) or Brian Burns (Week 4), then slide Martin outside.
Continuity is great, but flexibility is also pretty great too. The Cowboys should consider maximizing Martin's awesomeness by configuring the best arrangement of offensive linemen based on the strength of their opponents.
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