Since being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, Zack Martin has basically been the perfect football player.
He missed time for the first time ever last season, but when Zack Martin is on the field (an overwhelming majority of the time) he’s money. He’s literally never not been an All-Pro. That’s insane considering that he’s entering his sixth NFL season.
There’s an argument to be made that when compared to counterparts across the league that Zack Martin is the single best member of the Cowboys currently on the roster. He’s a machine. The fact that he’s so reliable blocking the run, blocking the pass, and serving as an immovable force in general is hard to process. He’s a star.
Recently NFL.com put together their all-analytics team. Analytics continue to rise in terms of prominence across the football landscape and it’s definitely interesting to consider which players rank among the league’s best in this realm. Surprise, surprise, Zack Martin is the right guard for the squad.
Elite on passing snaps? Check (he ranks first among right guards at keeping defenders five feet or more away from his QB, achieving it on 25.1% of snaps). Elite on rushing snaps? Yup (his figure of +2.6 yards is No. 2 at his position). What sets Martin apart is that the Cowboys’ game plan included a high volume of rushing attempts by Ezekiel Elliott inside the tackles (PFF counted 1,026 yards, most in the NFL). When I overlay computer vision, I see that when Zeke ran into Martin’s space (think of the gaps directly to the left and right of Martin), Zeke recorded his highest yards-per-rush mark (5.2), along with the most rushes of 10-plus yards (14). My point is, even with opposing defenses anticipating Elliott’s use and lining up accordingly, Martin was able to keep defenders away from Elliott and lay the groundwork for Elliott to produce his best results on the ground.
It really is quite amazing that Ezekiel Elliott is able to rip off 5.2 yards per carry when running behind the careful guidance of Martin. We’re talking about a standard Zeke run in that vicinity being good for half of a first down. That level of efficiency is unreal.
What’s more is that Martin’s arrival in Dallas coincided with the team’s shift to a run-heavy offense. As its noted in the piece, defenses know that the Cowboys are running and that Martin is going to be leading the way. In spite of this, over the course of five years, they haven’t been able to stop them. That’s incredible.
Zack Martin is one of the best players to wear the Cowboys uniform in the last quarter century. He’s on pace to become a player worthy of the Ring of Honor and likely Pro Football Hall of Fame. Considering he wears the number of the Big Cat, it’s appropriate that he’s this great.