Zack Martin was the latest domino to fall in what’s been a devastating slew of toppled giants on Dallas’ once-potent offensive line. While Dak Prescott was undoubtedly the most prolific injury to mar Dallas’ 2020-21 campaign, the ones that have befallen upon the offensive line brigade are nearly equal in relative impact to the offense’s substantiality.
Prescott himself isn’t afforded room to maneuver in the pocket as he did so comfortably throughout most of 2019 if not for one of football’s most stout protection forces, and no one could’ve predicted the typhoon effect that longtime center Travis Frederick’s retirement would have on the resulting troupe.
It was utterly shocking to see the line’s centerpiece hang up his cleats at such an early age in comparison to his fellow comrades (he hadn’t even crossed age 30 off of his lifespan’s calendar yet). Shocking, at least to much of the team’s fanbase and outside witnesses who’d seen him dominant opponents for years en route to five Pro Bowl selections.
The hole left at center would be readily filled by Jerry Jones’ management troupe with the resigning of Frederick’s backup, Joe Looney. And Looney has proved solid since #72’s departure, but oftentimes the new squadron has looked scrambled as they’ve tried to re-salvage the production lost in Frederick’s wake.
No longer would Frederick’s on-ball defensive recognition, high-caliber IQ, and rare athleticism serve as the backbone to what, as Jones tabbed it, was one of the “most talented and skilled NFL offensive lines that has been assembled.”
But despite that enormous missing piece that would send centrifugal shockwaves outwards towards the rest of Big D’s line, no one could've predicted the strokes of misfortune that would pummel them in 2020.
It’s painful to list them off.
The injuries that have sent this long-heralded group reeling are as follows:
- Tyron Smith: neck condition (required surgery) – out for the season
- La’el Collins: hip ailments (required surgery) – out for the season
- Tyler Biadasz: hamstring soreness after hearing “pop” in the muscle – 2-3 weeks
- Zack Martin: calf injury - injured reserve; could be out for the season
- Cam Erving: knee contusion - “multiple games” according to reports.
That’s five men whom Dallas dispersed big bucks to for protection purposes that are shelved by physical deterrents.
Five – the same number of men that make up the every-down offensive lineman total.
They only have six more on the roster, period.
This is a team which, already under intense scrutiny for their inability to produce yardage in the running game, is in danger of running out of bodies to line up in place of their already befallen soldiers.
Practice squad, anyone?
The straight-laced alignment of Dallas’ line is rapidly transfusing into the curvature of question mark, and it’s one that must be answered – and answered fast.
Among the mountainous litany of inquiries this team is rightfully receiving, ones surrounding their future offensive line may be the most urgent from a player standpoint.