This is my first fanpost, and, for those of you who haven't met me yet, I'll briefly introduce myself:
My name is Eric, I've been reading BTB every day for about the past year and a half, and finally joined about a month ago. Suffice it to say that its been a great decision! Thats about all that matters- So now that the formalities are out of the way, lets get to the good stuff.
A lot of people are worried(justly so) about the offensive line being the downfall of the 2012 Cowboys. What most of these people lack, however, is PERSPECTIVE.
While I personally don't think we have the worst O-Line situation in the NFL right now, there are a lot of articles available out there that discuss, for a relevant example, the Gnats terrible line situation(its bad.)
What there's not a lot of are discussions comparing this 2012 offensive line to the standard we all want:
The All-World, Championship-winning line of the 90's.
Follow the jump to see how Smith and Co. stack up against the greatest line(s) in Cowboys history
Lets talk about a couple of the big boys that played on the line during the 90's: Center Mark Stepsnoski and Guard Larry Allen.
Stepsnoski was a third round draft pick for the Cowboys in 1989, who could have gone higher but fell because he was Undersized.
He was actually drafted as a tackle, but was converted to Center, where he flourished and went to on to play in 5 pro bowls. Much like defensive lineman Jay Ratliff, Stepsnoski excelled by playing with speed and leverage against larger players.
I'll be the first to say that(aside from also being undersized) I don't think Costa can be compared to Stepsnoski, who was one of the best centers in Cowboys history- but I will say this: The Cowboys let go of Stepsnoski in 1994(Similar to a certain Andre Gurode), and went on to win the superbowl without him in 1996.
There's not much I need to say about Larry Allen. He could bench press over 700 lbs, and was an 11 time probowler who retired with one superbowl ring. No Dallas Cowboy will EVER be as good as the second round pick from Sonoma State was in my opinion, but we're all hoping Tyron Smith can become the next Cowboy's offensive line lifer. And I think he stands a good chance, in another 20 years, of being the guy future BTBers compare the line of 2030 to.
But what about the rest? There was Nate Newton, and UDFA who was picked up by the Redskins in 1983 and cut the very same year before signing with the Tampa Bay Bandit's, where he played for two years in the star-studded USFL.(Not really) In 1986, he was signed as a free agent by Dallas. He didn't start for the team until the next year at left guard, but was eventually bumped over to right tackle before Erik Williams came along to move him back to left guard. Not exactly a stellar pedigree, but he went on to become a Cowboy's great.
Erik Williams was drafted in 1991(3rd Round) as a tackle, but didn't start at right tackle until 1992, as the Cowboys preferred the above mentioned Nate Newton during Williams rookie year. There's nothing bad to say about Williams- he was a mid-round pick who exceeded expectations.
Mark Tuinei is an interesting story, and one whose beginnings make Bernie and the Bengal look like the best thing since sliced bread. Mark was a rookie free agent DEFENSIVE TACKLE picked up by the Boys in 1983- he made the team(on defense.) In 1985, the situation on the line was so bad that Mark switched sides and became a starting lineman for the offense. Like Nate Newton above, Mark bounced around the line, switching from position to position and covering whatever spot the Cowboys grew exceptionally desperate at. In 1987, he finally settled in at left tackle, where he protected Cowboy's legend Troy Aikman's blindside for years to come.
There are other names to mention, but the names above pretty much some up the championship cowboys line- from UDFA's who switched positions and did the best they could, to the strongest man in NFL history. I'm not saying that Smith, Livings, Costa, Bernie, and Free can be anywhere near as good.
But I hope this serves as a reminder that, in the years leading up to the superbowl victories of the 90's, Cowboys fans were in barber shops, coffee shops, warehouses and offices complaining about the desparation and lack of talent on the Offensive line. After all, how could 1st round pick Troy Aikman(who went 0-11 his first year) ever have a chance to grow and succeed behind such a squable?
If there could've been a BTB forum in those years, it would've been filled with talk oddly familiar to what we have here in 2012.
Tell me what you think:
What are the odds that history repeats itself, and our conglomeration of free agents and draft picks paves the way for another World Champion Dallas Cowboys team?
(While your at it, pick up the new 2012 Season Preview eBook for lots of great information on this year's line situation. I did and don't regret it.)