Football Outsiders' "Word of Muth": Cowboys O-line Mired In Mediocrity

Football Outsiders' weekly column on offensive line play, "Word of Muth," has cycled back around to discuss the Cowboys big uglies. The columnist, Ben Muth, played offensive guard at Stanford, so he's both smart and knows of what he speaks. If there was any question, he confirms his smarts by decrying the play of the Cowboys offensive line against the Giants.The Cowboys offensive line, he reports, "may have had nothing to do with the loss of Tony Romo, but they had a lot to do with the loss to the Giants. It was the classic poor offensive line performance--no one guy played awful, but each one was mediocre, making the unit look bad."

In fact, they looked so bad that, like many fair-weather fans, Muth's giving up on the Cowboys; this, he declares, is his last post of the season on the 'Boys O-line. In his final analytical foray, Muth:

  • explains basic blocking schemes
  • points out how Chris Gronkowski erred on the play that knocked Tony Romo out for the season
  • details the individual struggles of the Cowboys offensive linemen against the Giants
  • articulates how a talented front seven allows a defense to come up with an array of creative schemes

Everyone across the baord pretty much gets hammered by Muth, but Leonard Davis gets some special treatment. What has happened to Bigg? Just a while ago he was playing at a high level, this year he's actually had to be benched during a game. Here's Muth's observations:

One play that really stuck out to me was a shotgun Power (Power is a running play that requires the backside guard to pull). Leonard Davis was so slow out of his stance that Felix Jones actually beat him to the hole, effectively making him totally obsolete on the play. What makes this worse is that Davis was in a two-point stance, which means he should've been able to get moving pretty quickly. I'm not sure if Davis is simply too big, too banged up, or too old, but I think it's pretty clear that he is too slow to play effectively right now.

This last point in the list above is key: the Dallas line was so uninspiring that an offensive lineman had to talk about defense to fill the rest of his column inches--even though doing so is in contradistinction to the lineman's creed (Muth admits that, after doing so, he feels like he needs a bath). In spite of this, he offers some good insider info on the nuances of interior line play. Go here for more of Muth's insight and wit!

So, who would you keep from the Cowboys offensive line going into 2011?

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