When Zack Martin is on the football field, it’s apparent. And when he’s not — well, let’s not even imagine charting down that path again for the time being. #70’s impact is irrefutable. Dallas is just better when he’s around, and he’s been a dominant fixture on their front line since his rookie season.
Martin’s first outing in 2021 was the Cowboys’ second game, a battle with the Chargers, after he sat out their opener due to COVID protocols. And if you were attentive to the offensive line’s dynamics in both affairs, there was a stark difference between their overall performance.
Martin was the biggest reason for it.
Dallas had just 60 rushing yards vs. Tampa Bay in its 31-29 loss to the reigning champs. Against Los Angeles? Triple that amount, then add some: they ran roughshod for a total of 198 cumulative yards.
Ezekiel Elliott looked as if he turned up the heat a notch. Tony Pollard continues to make his case for more carries as he dekes defenses with deft agility. But the line paved the way, and Zack Martin was the centripetal force behind it all.
His presence was felt from the jump. He held steadfast throughout the team’s opening drive, showing zero signs of rust or sluggishness. And he helped manhandle Los Angeles’ defensive line to create space for the game’s first TD.
Incredible drive to start the game #DALvsLAC | Watch now on CBS & @NFLNetwork pic.twitter.com/IGR5wkbdFX— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 19, 2021
Tony Pollard had gargantuan holes to run through all day, and while he created some magic with his own two feet, we’d be remiss to minimize Martin’s hand in some of his biggest gains.
Ezekiel Elliott has Martin to thank for some massive chunks of running room as well:
FEED ZEKE! #DALvsLAC | @EzekielElliott | : Watch on CBS & NFL Network pic.twitter.com/PM62c5i4uV— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 19, 2021
Dallas ran right behind Martin all day, pounding the right side of the field as he continued to drive Los Angeles backward.
Tony Pollard racked up 109 yards on 13 carries for an average of 8.4 yards a tote, while Zeke had 71 yards on 16 hauls (4.4 per).
Zack Martin ladies and gents pic.twitter.com/qBmGsuhRdR— Duke Manyweather (@BigDuke50) September 21, 2021
Martin meanwhile, posted the best PFF grade of all players in the outing, at 95.5.
Not bad for your first game back.