Timing. Chemistry. The "This-Ain't-Our-First-Rodeo'' Factor.
Understanding of the importance of all this when it comes to offensive-line play tends to get avalanched as an NFL season trudges on. ... buried under everything from the excitement of a new toy (Miles Austin's record-setting hat-trick!) to how a team is doing when its quarterback start wearing his ballcap front-side-to-the-front (Tony Romo, undefeated!).
But then along comes the Seattle Seahawks, a 38-17 thrashing of that beleaguered bunch, and a distinct contrast in success levels when you compare their offensive line to your offensive line.
The jump-out number from Seattle: They are seven games into their season and they have been forced to dress out five different left tackles. In their last 23 games, they have utilized 14 different quintet combos as starters.
Now compare-and-contrast: Dallas' offensive line, left to right, is almost etched into 1,625 pounds of granite: Flozell Adams, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo. With the exception of a Kosier injury a year ago, those fellas have been side-to-side-to-side-to-side-to-side for two years.
They don't move out of the lineup ... but they do move the people in front of them.
That fivesome has turned the lights out on some of the NFL's greatest defensive-front standouts (Carolina's Julius Peppers, Atlanta's John Abraham, Seattle's Patrick Kearney) in bodyguarding Dallas' stars to four wins in the team's last five games. Most of the credit for the Cowboys' 5-2 record naturally goes to Romo and Austin and the people who habitually follow the final gun by being led to Pam Oliver.
But just as timing matters when it comes to quarterbacks and receivers (you see Romo's perfectly-synched coordination with every other pass-catcher and you begin to assume that it is Roy Williams who is doing something wrong), timing matters in the offensive line. At 411 yards per game, Dallas is the NFL's second-best grass-eaters ... and this offensive line is the constant there.
Chemistry matters, too. As every good Cowboys fan knows, Colombo, Davis and reserve Cory Procter are in a heavy-metal band called "Free Reign.'' Offensive linemen are often a tight group - tight enough to go bowling or fishing together - but I assume it takes a special bond for these guys to lie to each other about their musical gifts.
And the "This-Ain't-Our-First-Rodeo''Factor? This is Flozell's 12th year, the ninth season for Gurode and Davis, the eighth season for Colombo and Kosier. They are grinders and they are survivors. ... and I'll give two examples to prove it:
One, you know the financial problems many athletes subject themselves to because of crazy spending? I do not believe that will ever happen to Flozell Adams. Friends of his testify that on a recent visit to Las Vegas, Flozell ended the trip having lost $50. On the entire plane ride home, a mumbling-to-himself Adams just couldn't let it go ... 50 bucks - gone!
Flozell Adams' latest contract, from February 2008, paid him a $15-million signing bonus ... but still ... 50 bucks - gone!
Not exactly flashy.
Two, a Marc Colombo story that I think illustrates what these five guys are all about: On a recent Cowboys day off, Colombo opted to spend the day with his lovely wife Jessica. They are members of the Four Seasons Golf Resort in Las Colinas, so that was their destination. Marc Colombo for some golf? A fancy lunch? Maybe a spa and pedicure?
You know better than that. What Marc Colombo did on his off-day at the Four Seasons Golf Resort typifies the style of this Cowboys offensive line that is heavy on timing, chemistry and understanding of how to get as far as it has.
He found the gym. And spent the day in the weight room.