A timeline of Jerry Jones’ unwillingness to appropriately fix his offensive line over the last 5 years

Note from the editor: This is nothing new. I’ve posted this information in the past, but it was a part of another post. Since I have a feeling I’m going to be referencing the Cowboys’ recent history of ignoring their offensive line quite a bit as we lead up to the draft, I figured I’d give the following timeline its own post.

2008-2009

With an aging OL in place, the Cowboys had a total of 18 draft picks in 2008 and 2009.  With those 18 picks, they selected one offensive lineman, Robert Brewster.  Brewster is no longer with the team.

2010

In 2010, the Cowboys drafted one offensive lineman, Sam Young, in the 6th round.  Young, like Brewster, is no longer with the team.  They headed into the 2010 season with the oldest offensive line in the NFL.  Leonard Davis celebrated his 32nd birthday just before the start of the season, with Marc Colombo and Kyle Kosier celebrating their 32nd birthdays shortly thereafter.  Andre Gurode was 31.  The one player that was still relatively young was the 26 year old Doug Free, who was taking over at LT for the departed Flozell Adams, who was 35.

The Cowboys were the overwhelming favorites to win the NFC East that season, but in what should have been a fairly predictable outcome, the offensive line went into a sharp decline and the the offense sputtered.  It didn’t help that the defense was surprisingly bad.  They finished that season 6-10.

2011

The following offseason, Jerry Jones made the obvious decision to cut bait with Colombo, Davis and Gurode, three players that were playing poorly and making far too much money.  The Cowboys were, in a way, forced into “going young” along their OL.  For the first time in 20+ years as the Cowboys’ GM, Jones spent a first round pick on an offensive lineman, scoring the extremely talented Tyron Smith out of USC.  They would take a couple more offensive linemen in the 4th and 7th rounds, grabbing David Arkin and Bill Nagy, respectively.  They also locked up Free to a long term deal, paying him $32 million over 4 years. It appeared that after years of ignoring the OL, it was finally becoming a priority, albeit way too late.

To begin the season, the Cowboys started two rookies: Nagy at LG, and Tyron Smith at RT. They also plugged in 2nd year player Phil Costa at center.  Kosier was moved from LG over to the right side to be sort of an “offensive tackle whisperer” for Smith.  In one offseason, they went from the oldest offensive line in the league to one of the youngest.

With so many new and unproven players inserted into the lineup, the Cowboys’ offensive line once again sputtered all season, this time even more predictably than in 2010.  Smith had a great rookie year, but the two other new pieces, Costa and Nagy, both had brutal seasons.  Costa’s poor play lasted 16 games, while Nagy’s bad season was cut short in Week 6, when he was lost for the season with a broken ankle.  Kosier’s decline and health issues continued.  Free, meanwhile, was a major disappointment, having a surprisingly bad season.  The Cowboys were learning that turning over a full offensive line in a short amount of time isn’t exactly easy.  They hit with one player, missed with two, and were heading into 2012 once again needing to scramble to find answers.

2012

The Cowboys’ plan of attack for the OL in 2012, as usual, puzzled me.  First, they signed OG Mackenzy Bernadeau, a player that had a couple bad seasons in 2009 and 2010 in Carolina, who then lost his job in 2011. The Cowboys then went out and signed 30 year old Nate Livings, a player that Bengals fans by and large were more than happy to see leave. With Livings and Bernadeau in place, the team felt comfortable cutting Kosier.  On the outside, the Cowboys flip-flopped Smith and Free, with Smith moving from RT to LT, and vice versa. No offensive linemen were drafted.

Heading into 2012, the Cowboys had an almost complete lack of continuity along their OL:

Cowboys OL continuity

Costa was lost for the season early on, Livings played better than expected, Mackenzy Bernadeau did not play well, and Doug Free’s contract now looks like a horrible mistake, as he was bad for the second straight year.

The team still has next to no depth along the OL, and one of the worst C-RG-RT combos in all of football.

Here’s how the Cowboys’ frequency of drafting OL compares to the rest of the league:

Team Total picks OL drafted 1st 3 rounds Total OL drafted % of picks on OL
Steelers 42 5 10 23.8
Packers 42 2 9 21.4
49ers 38 3 8 21.1
Broncos 44 4 9 20.5
Bills 45 3 9 20
Colts 40 3 8 20
Eagles 51 1 10 19.6
Saints 26 1 5 19.2
Redskins 43 3 8 18.6
Falcons 38 4 7 18.4
Ravens 39 4 7 17.9
Chargers 34 1 6 17.6
Texans 40 3 7 17.5
Panthers 41 2 7 17.1
Dolphins 41 4 7 17.1
Patriots 48 2 8 16.7
Cardinals 37 0 6 16.2
Chiefs 44 5 7 15.9
Bears 38 2 6 15.8
Vikings 38 2 6 15.8
Jets 27 1 4 14.8
Raiders 34 4 5 14.7
Bengals 48 2 7 14.6
Giants 37 1 5 13.5
Lions 38 2 5 13.2
Cowboys 39 2 5 12.8
Browns 40 3 5 12.5
Seahawks 42 4 5 11.9
Rams 44 3 5 11.4
Jaguars 31 3 3 9.7
Titans 43 0 3 7
Buccaneers 37 1 2 5.4

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9 Comments

  1. [...] few days ago, we published a timeline of the Cowboys’ unwillingness to appropriately fix their offensive line over the last 5 years. Buried deep within that post was a chart that showed how frequently all 32 [...]

  2. David_Does_Dallas says:

    Jones said this yesterday and it may shed some light into his approach, right or wrong (tweets by Ed Werder):

    “Jerry Jones says Tony Romo’s improvisational abilities leave him more willing to play behind lesser offensive line to have best receivers.”
    “The point Jerry is making about Romo’s mobility is that you can’t have it all with salary cap and Romo prefers concession on OL than WR-TE.”

    1. Yep, already working on a post from those comments.

      1. David_Does_Dallas says:

        I am sure it will be a glowing praise of Jerry’s managing skills.

  3. giantsfan says:

    IMO, the GMEN are in the same boat — although we have a couple of rings over the past few years so I guess I can’t be too critical.

      1. willgfass says:

        The big difference, imo anyways, is that the Giants are better able to develop their later round picks than the Cowboys have, so even if the Giants OL isn’t anything special, they aren’t, one player notwithstanding, horrible either

      2. IGNORAMUS!!! says:

        What a COMPLETELY GUTLESS concession!! To criticize one team for doing A, and then to praise–or fail to criticize–another team for doing exactly the SAME DAMN THING!! As usual, a totally pathetic lack of objectivity–let alone, *cough, cough*, acumen. LMFAO!!!

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