Ah, memory lane.
It’s an oft-traveled road by all human beings in this life — a prodigiously deep highway with hundreds — better yet thousands of diverse memories. Some are wildly pleasant to reminisce upon, while others incite feelings of curt destitution. All though, represent imaginative pictures and stories that remind us of our once-present toils as we glimpse through a figurative looking glass to the past.
And if you’re a Cowboys fan (at least one that was born before the 1990’s), you likely have dozens of memories of the team’s great exploits tucked away in your brain’s happy place. These thoughts are safely guarded with all of your willpower so as not to allow disturbance — especially ones that can be caused by the team’s putrid performance as of late.
More recent incarnations of Dallas’ distinguished franchise are devoid of Super Bowl appearances, but they do have positive moments sprinkled in amongst the disappointment of not reaching the big game.
A good majority of these favorable instances during the past few years came on the offensive side of the ball for the troupe. Slews of 1,000-yard receivers, league-leading rushers and record-breaking pass seasons have highlighted Dallas’ offensive exploits.
But the buck has always started, and stopped with its stellar collection of plump space-eaters up front.
Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, and host of revolving compatriots have consistently combined to make the Cowboys’ protectant coverage one of the most reliable in the league.
The aforementioned trio boasts 17 Pro Bowl nominations, and seven first-team All-Pro nods between them, and crafted a deserved reputation as a nightmare to matchup against after bulldozing massive holes for the likes of Demarco Murray, Darren McFadden and Ezekiel Elliott to high-step through with ease.
But Father Time wait for no human being. Frederick was the first pin to drop from the regime we hoped would stick around for ages, and the numerous pitfalls that Tyron Smith has endured through the past few seasons present somber omens of a nearing close to his career as well.
And Zack Martin, who has managed to stay commendably healthy, just suffered the largest — and lone major injury of his once-unblemished tenure.
It’s a sobering realization that’s enveloping right in front of our eyes, and before long, Martin too will have drifted away with the waves of time.
Which makes these next few years indescribably important from a protection standpoint. Steady play up front is a premium that’s becoming more sparse by the day, and while Dallas has miles to trek to rejuvenate its near-moot defense, O-line has to be prioritized for this franchise — and done so soon.
The ‘Boys drafted 6’7, 308 lb OT Josh Ball with their 138th pick, and he has the chance to develop into a swell addition. But it’s going to take more to get them back to their offensive glory days — and all the star-power in the world from positional-player stalwarts means nada if they aren’t given ample space to do their handiwork.
The cease of the Martin/Smith era is hurriedly approaching, but one door’s closure can always signify the opening of another one — that is, if Dallas plays its cards right.