At least on paper, the Dallas Cowboys should be better on paper this year than they were a year ago. Tyron Smith, the team’s best lineman in 2011, is moving to left tackle, swapping spots with Doug Free who will go to the right; Dallas added two hulking (though not terribly highly touted) guards as well, in Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings. There’s a good chance that in week one, the only guy in the same place as last year along the line will be center Phil Costa.
This might not be such a good thing.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas put together a piece recently calling the center position the offense’s greatest flaw, and he has some numbers to back his statement up. Citing ProFootballFocus.com’s grading system, MacMahon writes that Costa ranked 30th among centers in the NFL. He was the third worse center in the league in terms of pass protection.
This offseason, head coach Jason Garrett acknowledged that Costa needed to improve, but points out that 2011 was Costa’s first season as a starter--which, as rough as it was to watch at time, provided him with some invaluable experience.
“Absolutely he has to do things physically better and he has to do things mentally better and emotionally better and all those things,” Garrett said. “He’s working very hard at that. Certainly the experience will help him. The fact that he was a starter and played all those snaps for us last year will help him. But he has the right approach.”
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