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Cowboys Start Youth Movement On Offensive Line

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Whatever the Cowboys decide to do with Andre Gurode today or over the next couple of days, there is little doubt that the Cowboys are going after a wholesale remodeling of their offensive line.

There have been been voices cautioning that this retooling of the offensive line signals a 'rebuilding strategy' which will entail a down year or two before the Cowboys re-emerge as a force to be reckoned with. After all, the starting line-up against the Vikings featured three rookies in Tyron Smith, Bill Nagy and Kevin Kowalski. And Kowalski was backing up Phil Costa, who is himself merely a one-year veteran. Are the Cowboys really willing to go with so much youth and inexperience on the offensive line?

Of course, the Cowboys still have Montrae Holland on the roster. Should he ever get healthy, the coaches apparently still believe Holland is starter material at guard. Most fans do not believe this.

Easily overlooked among all the discussion about who's in and who's out, about rebuilding vs. retooling and about youth versus experience is the fact that the Cowboys O-line in its current preseason iteration has played better than in any of the 16 games last year.

And the fact that the Cowboys appear to be shopping Gurode - while his backup is out 2-4 weeks with a PCL - should tell you something about the confidence the coaches have in their young guys. Only question is, can we as fans have confidence in the coaches to make the right decisions?

Last season, the average age of the offensive line was 30.8 years. The starting O-line against the Vikings had an average age of 24.8 years. In one year, the Cowboys may have gone from one of the oldest to one of the youngest O-lines. It is of course quite ironic that as fans, we were all screaming bloody murder last year about how the Cowboys O-line had been allowed to get so old, and now we're worried it's getting too young.

There is little doubt that Garrett is pushing for the roster to get younger, and the O-line may just be the most obvious (and most current) example. But 'roster rejuvenation' is not a quick fix. It is a long term strategy, one that consistently emphasizes youth over experience. It is a strategy that runs counter to the quick fix mentality exhibited in Dallas for so long that, a strategy that found the Cowboys scrambling and trying to plug holes at almost any cost (in dollars or player age) in free agency instead of building for the future.

The Cowboys are going for a youth movement, and not just on the offensive line. There are likely to be growing pains, but it will ultimately put the Cowboys in a position to succeed for a long time.