Year Of The Yuglies: Ten Things I'm Thinking About The Cowboys Offensive Line

BTB has done a great job covering the state of the offensive line over the past few days, with exemplary commentary from Tom Ryle here, and O.C.C. over several posts. Hurricane Irene and more specifically, PEPCO's loose connections took the interweb away from me almost immediately following game's end on Saturday night, so I haven't been able to add my two cents (now worth 2.0452 cents after a good Monday for the market).

The youth movement is in full effect, as it emerged that Jason Garrett's preferred offensive line starters includes both Phil Costa and Bill Nagy. In one of Monday's threads, a hilarious conversation about nicknames for the trench guys cropped up and someone coined the term 'Yuglies', referring to the tender ages and the standard O Line term of 'Big Uglies'. I decided to collect some thoughts on the line that I've had over the last 48 hours into a neat little list. So here are ten loosely joined thoughts on the Year of the Yuglies. Sorry OCC, I'm not using a prime number for this one either.

-- If the Cowboys successfully pull off this offensive line transition, then we can probably do away with OTA's and mini camps. I kid, of course, but the offensive line is the one unit that supposedly needs the most amount of gel time... continuity and all. Two rookies plus a second-year pro with no team organized offseason activities? A successful campaign either means the Cowboys offensive brain trust are geniuses, or the structured offseason might be a bit overrated. At least as far as this phase of the game.

--The Cowboys old starting center was signed through the 2012 season and was scheduled to make approximately $12 million over the remaining years. The Cowboys new starting center is signed through the 2012 season and is scheduled to make $900K over the remaining years.

-- In the Minnesota game, even though the team only averaged four yards a carry, five different Cowboys had rushes of 8 yards or more, four of them with double digit highs. Over the three preseason games the team has 329 yards on 74 carries, which works out to be about a 4.4 ypc average and just under 25 rushes a game. In 2010, the Cowboys averaged 4.4 yards a carry on just under 25 rushes a game. The right side of the 2010 Cowboys O Line would have counted $22.1 million against the cap. Their replacements count around $4 million. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.

-- Are the Cowboys making a mistake with the line? Here are the two prevailing ‘devil's advocate' thoughts. It's just the preseason, so the likes of Phil Costa and Bill Nagy haven't been tested under regular season fire. Even if they look solid in practice, what's to say the defense they face is up to snuff with the defenses they'll see during the regular season? A lot of what ifs to ponder, but the guts to roll the dice is commendable. Necessary, but still commendable. Caveats: Gurode's declining performance, no suitable options at guard.

-- Andre Gurode had one of the strangest Cowboys tenures of recent memory.  He was drafted as a center to play under Dave Campo. Was moved to right guard by Bill Parcells, who moved him back to center a few years later. He endured the surreal Albert Haynesworth incident, became famous from it and then made five Pro Bowls while simultaneously being overrated and underrated. Now he's the final starter to be jettisoned to the curb during the Year Of The Yuglies.

-- The importance of Kyle Kosier's intelligence cannot be overstated. We all know he was often the one to make the line adjustments in game action. After lining up next to first year starter Doug Free last season, the Cowboys moved him to the right side to assist with 20-year-old rookie Tyron Smith. The Cowboys just plugged a second year backup and a seventh-round rookie into the other line spots.  Free is in his fifth year, so his knowledge base has grown tremendously, but grandpa Kosier is going to have to do a lot of directing. And we have this guy signed to a three-year deal for between $6.5 and $9 million total? Steal. 

-- Scary thought. if Kosier goes down and we plug in Arkin, that means that Doug Free's 23 starts make him the senior statesmen. The Cowboys will see more stunts than a Jackie Chan marathon.

-- Happy thought. What if David Arkin gets adjusted to the speed and talent of the NFL and becomes the best of the bunch on the interior? Can you imagine how good this line will be in two years?

-- Who knew? I know I didn't. Here's what ESPN's Todd Archer wrote back at the end of July when the Cowboys inked a seventh round draft pick.  "Nagy, 6-3, 318 pounds, is a versatile lineman because he can play all three interior spots and he also lined up some last year as a tight end in short-yardage situations... Nagy will likely be battling with Phil Costa for one of the backup jobs along the interior."

-- I mentioned it in the News post, but it bears repeating. Archer dug up the nugget that a previous rendition of a Hudson Houck line remake, made up of four new starters including two rooks, had acquitted themselves well. The 2004 San Diego Chargers marched to a 12-4 record behind their unprovens. I include it here because, well, I'm still thinking about it. I hope I get to remind people of it throughout the regular season.

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