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The Phantom PhanPost - What I think of Doug Free

When my kids were little my wife bought them a hamster for a pet. They named him Ginobili. It is the same name of the NBA guard from Argentine. It wasn’t because we were fans of the San Antonio Spurs; it was because Ginobili just sounds like good name for a hamster. It ended up being a fitting name because it turned out to be quite the flopper. Anyway, the kids loved him for about four days. It was a wonderful experience. My wife then took over as the hamster’s primary care giver and they became best friends. In fact, we’ve have several hamsters since Ginobili because my wife now loves those little critters. In February, she got one that was big, white, and hardly moved. I called it Dougie Free. It died two weeks later.

I’m a Dallas Cowboys’ junkie and every day of the week I’m in some form of discussion regarding what’s going on with our team. And it seems like most of the conversations reside around our offensive line, particularly – Mr. Dougie Free. So let’s talk about the elephant in the room. He’s been a punch line in many of my jokes, but it’s all in fun. I mean, how do I really feel about him?

Answer: He’s okay.

Like a lot of Cowboys’ players who exhibit a showing of good play, Jerry likes to plague them with an overinflated contract that immediately makes us hate them. But let’s take that out of the picture. Let’s pretend Doug played for free. Now, how good is he?

Answer: He’s okay.

That’s how I see him. There was a point where he was big and athletic and showed great ability in protection and was effective in getting to second level blocks. But that was then. In recent years he has shown poor technique and been beaten regularly with a first step that usually sends Romo into a Harlem Shake. Sure, his haircut makes him looks like Zach Galifianakis in the movie "Hangover 2," but that in no way makes me think that he reeks the same type of havoc as that Galifilopogus guy did in that movie.

Free’s performance grades (according to Pro Football Focus) have taken a turn for the worse:

+10.9 (2009)

+27.7 (2010)

-2.0 (2011)

-10.1 (2012)

Now I don’t know what any of those numbers mean, but it looks pretty bad. But the good news is that Free is still big and strong. The gooder news is that his technique can be improved upon. The goodest news is that we have another raw youngster in Jeremy Parnell who is standing in line to take snaps away should Free continue to play poorly. I think it is not unrealistic to think Free can be of some value on the right side. If our coaching staff were gravely concerned with him, then I would’ve expected us to be a little more active in the free agent market to find a viable replacement. I see him as a C- right tackle with the potential to be a B- player if he gets his act together. And if he’s even teetering close to that grade, then our line takes a big step forward in being a more serviceable unit.



Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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