With Zack Martin's addition, new offensive guru Scott Linehan feels that the Dallas Cowboys now have the ability to run the ball at will. There is solid justification for his feeling that way since the Notre Dame offensive lineman was the third lineman taken in the first round in the last four years. Once neglected and allowed to decay from the days of the "Great Wall of Dallas", the men upfront have once again become a priority with the team. They are now a unit that the coach feels is capable of dominating, even when opponents stack the box to shut down the ground game.
"This is a great young front. It was already an offensive line that was really meshing and playing well. We don’t have to have this certain look to run the ball. We feel like we can line up and say, ‘Hey, if they’re going to drop guys into the box, we still feel like we’ve got the guys that can get it done.’ And then that helps everything. That opens everything on the outside of the field." - Scott Linehan
For fans of America's Team this should be seen as exciting news. Not only will rebuilding the wall give the team the luxury of pounding the ball when they feel like it, the revitalized offensive line will continue to improve the protection afforded to Tony Romo in the pocket. In short, Dallas will now have the ability to bring about the balance that we have all been hearing about throughout Jason Garrett's tenure as the head coach. That ability only comes when teams have the ability to dominate along the line of scrimmage. An inability to do just that has often held back the Cowboys.
"You’re constantly trying to attack the defense. Whether it’s through the running game or the passing game, we believe the game is won up front." - Jason Garrett
This fact is certainly not lost on the newest stud on the Dallas offensive line. Zack Martin is well aware that championship football starts in the trenches, and he is dedicating himself to helping the team return to that level.
"When we were winning in the ‘90s, that’s what they did, they controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. You can tell they’re invested in that. It’s going to be fun to be a part of it." - Zack Martin
The rookie right guard has already demonstrated the same tendencies that his first-round predecessors Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick have brought to Bill Callahan's offensive front. The man charged with developing the line into a game-changing force has been impressed with the efforts that his new addition, along with his two first-round cohorts, has brought to the squad.
"This guy is certainly similar to Frederick, similar to Tyron where he has a real hunger and passion for the game. He wants to know every nuance. He wants to know everything that you can give him. There’s just not enough time in the day to show him the films that we want to teach him and show him examples of. That’s really great to have around you." - Bill Callahan
Not only is this a talented group being coached by a man with a reputation for his ability to develop offensive linemen, they also have the benefit of being young and gaining experience together. All three men are 23 years old, and barring serious injury they have the potential to spend the next decade working together as a cohesive team. This group will boost the Cowboys in the short-term and they will likely be around to provide Romo's eventual successor a luxury that few young quarterbacks get, an established veteran line to take care of him while he develops and masters his craft.
Often criticized for their lack of attention to building up front, the current edition of the Dallas front office has bucked the trend and laid a foundation for rebuilding the Great Wall of Dallas. While it is still far to early to hang that moniker on this unit, those of us who remember the first edition have to see the potential in this young crew and take heart that better times are coming.