This Sunday the Dallas Cowboys will face a Los Angeles Chargers front that performed extremely well last week against the Washington Football Team. In fact the Chargers allowed the lowest pressure rate of any team in the NFL in Week 1, an impressive achievement given that they went up against the stout Washington Football Team front.
Playing well in the trenches will be pivotal for a Cowboys team that will not only be going up against star pass rusher Joey Bosa, but doing so with La’el Collins out since he is beginning his five-game suspension. Jerry Jones said this week that Terence Steele will start at right tackle, an assertion Mike McCarthy declined to corroborate, and there are plenty of people wondering whether or not he is up to the task.
Coincidentally the Cowboys are about to face the team that drafted what many people wanted to be the team’s tackle of the future in Rashawn Slater. Not to say that the Cowboys don’t need first-round talent on their frontline, but is the Cowboys offensive line alright right now?
The Dallas Cowboys have the fourth-best offensive line in the NFL according to PFF
While we all know how talented the Cowboys offensive line has been over the years the number of people who legitimately believe that the group is among the best in the league in our current moment is dwindling.
Most tend to agree that the Dallas offensive line has plenty of talent but that other circumstances generally tend to get in the way (say a suspension to a tackle that played one game after missing all of last season as just a random example).
This week PFF released their offensive line rankings entering Week 2 and what do you know, the Dallas Cowboys are number four behind only Cleveland, Indianapolis, and Tampa Bay.
4. DALLAS COWBOYS
The Cowboys at full strength still boast one of the best offensive lines in football, but it looks like we’re going to have to keep waiting to see it. Zack Martin returns from the COVID-19 list, and he remains arguably the best lineman at any position in the NFL, but offsetting some of that is losing La’el Collins to a five-game suspension, opening up a potential hole at right tackle. The biggest boost Dallas may get is from Tyron Smith finally being healthy. He recorded 69 pass-blocking snaps against the Bucs on opening night and didn’t allow a single pressure.
Colts fans struggling to cope with reality will tell you that their offensive line was a disaster last week, but blocking for Carson Wentz (a quarterback who holds onto the ball for too long) is not exactly an easy task. Cleveland comes in at the top spot here and while Baker Mayfield was sacked twice in the team’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, PFF only graded four total hurries for him throughout the game that his offensive line was responsible for.
This is where things are very different for the Cowboys. While the team is being heralded for their offensive line it should be noted that collectively they allowed 11: Tyler Biadasz (5), Connor McGovern (3), and La’el Collins (3), were all guilty.
Much of what is likely elevating the Cowboys overall is that PFF graded Tyron Smith as the top offensive linemen in pass blocking in Week 1. It isn’t exactly a surprise to see him carrying the group given everything that he has done throughout his career. Also the reintroduction of Zack Martin will obviously raise the floor for the group which is a factor as well.
For what it’s worth this week’s opponent, which features Rashawn Slater as mentioned, ranks 16th by PFF’s standards.
16. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Rashawn Slater may have been one of the most important offseason additions to any offensive line if his debut is anything to go on. Against Washington’s defensive front, Slater didn’t allow any pressure from 52 pass-blocking snaps and earned the second-best overall PFF grade (73.5) of any rookie in the first week of action. Don’t look now, but the Chargers’ line might not be a liability for the first time in a long time.
L.A. was up against quite a different challenge than Dallas was in Week 1 and the Cowboys certainly won’t present the same level of difficulty for them that the Football Team did. Hopefully the Cowboys defense will be able to get home against this Chargers front, but that will be difficult given that Justin Herbert got rid of the ball very quickly last week. And now the team is without DeMarcus Lawrence making things more difficult.
Dak Prescott actually had one of the shortest average times to throw on dropbacks with a pass attempt last week with 2.21 seconds (likely also a contributor to the Cowboys offensive line grading well). The Cowboys did not get to Tom Brady once as far as sacks are concerned because he also got the ball at quickly with a rate of 2.34 seconds (again, Tampa’s offensive line ranks even higher than Dallas’).
Justin Herbert had an average time to throw on dropbacks with a pass attempt of 2.38 seconds in Week 1. Offensive line or not, that is the key to stifling the second-year wonder.