Last year, the Dallas Cowboys had the oldest offensive line in the NFL (They also had the oldest OL in 2009). They had three starters (Kyle Kosier, Leonard Davis, and Marc Colombo) that were going to be 32 years of age by the end of the 2010 season, and a fourth (Andre Gurode) that recently turned 32 this March. Kosier and Gurode mostly held up, but the Cowboys got burned badly by the play of two of the four “30-somethings,” Colombo and Davis, who both had terrible seasons. At one point in the season, Davis was benched, and Colombo was nothing short of a disaster at RT. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they also didn’t have any adequate depth (Alex Barron anyone?), and the OL hampered the offense all season long.
The running game tailed off sharply from 2009 to 2010. Felix Jones went from 5.9 yards per carry in ’09 to 4.3 in ’10. Marion Barber went from 4.4 to a paltry 3.3. Tashard Choice went from 5.5 to 3.7. That’s on the OL. In the passing game, Jason Garrett routinely called short drops and quick passes because he didn’t trust the OL to be able to sustain blocks long enough to give Tony Romo and Jon Kitna enough time to let longer routes develop. The 2010 Cowboys OL (with an assist from a surprisingly bad defense) played a huge part of their miserable season.
That was the fallout from misses in previous drafts, or just ignoring the OL altogether. In the span from 2008 to 2010, the Cowboys had 24 draft picks. They used just 2 of those picks on offensive linemen (Sam Young, a 6th round pick, and Robert Brewster, a 3rd rounder), despite having the oldest OL in the league. That was just insanely poor vision by the front office.
This draft, the Cowboys finally addressed the OL with the addition of Tyron Smith with the 9th overall selection. Smith will immediately replace Colombo, and should provide an instant upgrade, even as a rookie. It’s an enormous step in the right direction for the Cowboys and the future of their offense. They also cut Leonard Davis, and inserted in Montrae Holland. Holland has since been hampered by injuries, and appears to have possibly lost the starting job to rookie Bill Nagy.
Then came news that Jerry Jones is essentially forcing Andre Gurode to take a pay cut or pack his bags. Ballsy. Whatever option Gurode chooses, it’s very possible the Cowboys will go with another 2nd year pro, Phil Costa at center anyway.
If so, your 2010 Cowboys OL will look like this:
Doug Free – Bill Nagy – Phil Costa – Kyle Kosier (moves over from LG) – Tyron Smith
Here are the age differences from 2009 to 2011, if in fact the above 2011 starter projections are correct:
|LT||Flozell Adams||Doug Free||Doug Free|
|34 years, 3 months, 24 days||26 years, 8 months, 5 days||27 years, 8 months, 5 days|
|LG||Kyle Kosier||Kyle Kosier||Bill Nagy|
|30 years, 9 months, 15 days||31 years, 9 months, 15 days||23 years, 10 months, 16 days|
|C||Andre Gurode||Andre Gurode||Phil Costa|
|30 years, 6 months, 5 days||31 years, 6 months, 5 days||24 years, 2 months|
|RG||Leonard Davis||Leonard Davis||Kyle Kosier|
|31 years, 6 days||32 years, 6 days||32 years, 9 months, 15 days|
|RT||Marc Colombo||Marc Colombo||Tyron Smith|
|30 years, 11 months, 3 days||31 years, 11 months, 3 days||20 years, 8 months, 30 days|
|Average Age||Average Age||Average Age|
|31 years, 6 months, 6 days||30 years, 9 months, 8 days||25 years, 10 months, 8 days|
Nagy, Costa, and Smith have taken a combined 109 NFL snaps. Going so drastically young would very much be a move that sacrifices immediate results for future gains. Frankly, I don’t think the Cowboys are legitimate contenders this year, so I think I kinda like the move. There’s little question this unit would face some serious struggles, but by Jerry Jones letting the OL get so old for so long, Jason Garrett would be wise to go very young, make the best out of a crappy situation, and look toward the future instead of the Jerry Jones way of constantly playing for right now.