The Dallas Cowboys went 12-4 and won the NFC East last year behind a dominant offensive line, which should be stellar once again. Thus far in the preseason, however, the unit generating the most buzz for the Cowboys isn’t the offensive line; rather, it’s the defensive line.
“Well, the big thing is, I think they’ve got a little bit of a pass rush going,” former NFL quarterback and current Cowboys analyst Babe Laufenberg said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Randy Gregory, their second-round pick – a lot of people projected him in the first round. (He was) a first-round talent (but) had some marijuana issues, but he’s looked impressive. But these first few games, the Cowboys have played virtually none of their starters. As you know, these preseason games – they’re a little hit and miss. The Cowboys have mustered a grand total of 13 points in eight quarters of football, so it hasn’t been exactly the most exciting stuff to call.”
If Dallas’ defensive line can match the offensive line – or at least come close – the Cowboys will be a team to be reckoned with in 2015.
“(The offensive line is) going to be good,” Laufenberg said. “Now people are labeling them – I think a little prematurely – the best offensive line in NFL history and I think we need to tap the breaks a little bit on that. But they’re good. They had three Pro Bowlers last year – Tyron Smith at left tackle, Travis Frederick at center and then Martin at guard. For a guy to come in like Zack Martin did last year – and he obviously played big-time football at Notre Dame – he was really impressive. I think he may be the best player at his position in a few years. We’ll be talking about him in that regard.”
While the Cowboys’ offensive line is elite, Laufenberg believes people are taking DeMarco Murray’s historic 2014 campaign for granted. Murray, 27, rushed 392 times for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He also caught 57 balls for 416 yards.
All of those numbers were career highs.
“DeMarco Murray had a great year last year,” Laufenberg said. “He ran for more yards than anyone in the history of the Dallas Cowboys has, and when you consider the fact that they’ve had Tony Dorsett and the NFL’s all-time leading rusher in Emmitt Smith – and this guy ran for more yards than either of them in a single season – that was impressive. So it’s going to be a running back by committee, like most teams are now.”
Joseph Randle, who 51 carries for 343 yards and three touchdowns last year, will split time with Darren McFadden, who was acquired from Oakland.
“We’re going to see if Darren McFadden was a good player on a bad team, or (if he) was just never the guy that they thought he would be when Oakland took him with a top-five pick,” Laufenberg said. “Then you got Joseph Randle. Again, getting 5-7 carries a game and looking good (is one thing, but) are you still going to be running hard and running well on carry No. 18, 20, 22 like DeMarco did last year? That all remains to be seen. It certainly helps that they have this offensive line. But I just don’t buy into (the notion that) anybody could’ve run behind that line.”