I find myself boggled by posts looking to complete the offensive line make over by replacing Gurode and the general disrespect for his game by some posters. He has been the Cowboys best lineman and has been to five straight Pro Bowls and is without doubt one of the top 5 centers in the NFL. In year 9 & 10 of his career, he finally has learned to minimize his mental mistakes, he dominates his man on most plays and he seldom needs help to handle powerful NT that force double teams as most centers are physically over matched. Why isn't he loved?
And then it came to me, I think I figured out why we have a hard time loving our best offensive lineman over the last half-decade.
Have you ever talked to an old divorcee that was bitter and could not accept the fact that their ex-spouse had learned from past mistakes and become a better person? They will not hear that they have become a good parent, or worse yet, a loving mate. They will tell you any sign of change, no matter how long lived, is all a facade covering up that evil and selfish @!#&!!. As sports fans, we can be like the bitter divorcee. When our team drafts a young player and they disappoint us multiple times they fall out of favor. There is a point of no return. When those same players progress along later in career we as fans have a hard time understanding why coaches and NFL peers value them as much as they do.
Andre Bernard Gurode is the classic example. The Cowboys needed help on the interior line and he was drafted in the second round. He was the pick of the litter, the first interior lineman taken in the draft; taken seven picks before LeCharles Bentley. He had power and athleticism. First time I had ever heard the term bubble butt intended as a compliment.
His rookie year he showed promise in camp and made the roster as the backup center. In his second year (2003), trying to get the "best 5" lineman on the field, newly hired Bill Parcells moved him to OG. He struggled at the position, getting beat physically and making mental mistakes. By 2005, Gurode was on the roster bubble and Bill moved him back to center. He performed well enough to hold a roster spot, but not well enough to beat out a very average Al Johnson at center. His reputation is set as a disappointing player that is physically gifted player, but makes too many mental mistakes to be worth it. In the meanwhile LeCharles Bentley had turned in a Sports Illustrated Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2002 award followed by three Pro Bowl seasons. Color us disappointed and bitter.
In 2006 Dallas looked hard at LeCharles Bentley in free agency, but lost out to Cleveland. Gurode became the full time starter. He had a very good season, that was highlighted by Albert Haynesworth's head stomp and a few memorable bad snaps. He went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate. In the four seasons that followed, he made the Pro Bowl all four years and was selected to the All-Pro Team as the NFL's best center twice in 2007 and 2009. By 2009 the mental mistakes had been greatly reduced. Around the league he is considered a premier center that has good foot work and is the most powerful player in the league at his position. To fans he is more known for the mental gaffes than his solid play. To those divorcee eyes he will always be that disappointing player that is physically gifted, but makes too many mental mistakes to be worth it.
The Cowboy line needed rebuilding and the team has taken measure to do that. Better yet, it looks like they finally did a good job in drafting the right linemen. Interesting enough, that old dumb offensive line coach is looking like a genius again. After training camp and two preseason games the line is looking good with two quality tackles and five NFL worthy interior lineman. With a broken down Colombo starting last year, it is not surprising that Dallas could not fill the starter role AND find two quality backup tackles.
I love the fact that the team is reloading with less powerful more athletically gifted lineman; but I don't believe that Kosier, Costa or the two rookies can hold the point vs the most powerful NT. At least one of the three interior lineman has to have the power to anchor vs power rushers without help or the unit will get over powered by the more physical defenses.
If you have been a bitter divorcee, let it go. Embrace what Gurode brings and has brought this team. Thanks to getting him some help the interior line is looking good, now if we could just find a swing tackle.