The DC Times

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By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys News and Notes, 6/22/10: Are Cowboys Uncertain About Doug Free?

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We reported before the Cowboys wouldn’t give Buehler much competition, but this is a huge vote of confidence for him as Hughes was his only semi-legitimate competition on the roster.  Dallas clearly wants to boost Buehler’s confidence, and why not?  History has shown kickers tends to be rather fluky (although that doesn’t negate the importance of a kicker’s performance to his team’s win total).

ESPN’s Matt Mosley claims the Eagles, Giants, and Redskins all believe Alex Barron will win the left tackle job.  While we don’t think that is necessarily the case, Free is certainly a question mark for Dallas.  However, the combination of Free and Barron should be enough to produce (at least) as much as Flozell Adams did last season (and is one of the primary reasons we believe the team’s “interest” in Jammal Brown was a bluff).  We gave Adams a “C-” overall grade for his 2009 play, Free a “B-,” and Barron a “C+.”

We couldn’t disagree more (although in fairness, we can’t totally disagree with “50 percent blocker” because we have no idea what it means).  The offense averaged 5.6 yards-per-carry with Anderson in the game last season.  That is particularly impressive when you consider defenses would almost never be in a nickel package with Anderson in the game.  Thus, he was blocking the big boys.  We are confident he will be on the roster in 2010.

Everyone is interested in watching Alan Ball perform at free safety, but we think he’ll be fine (as long as he isn’t asked to do too much tackling).  He will be an above-average cover guy.  More interesting to us is the play of Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, a player we believe has a ton of upside.

This will change by 2010.  Marcus Spears will likely be playing for another team, Igor Olshansky may or may not still be a starter, and Jay Ratliff could be a much, much richer man.  Still, their play is a major reason for the defense’s success.  Check out our 2009 defensive line grades.

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9 Responses to Cowboys News and Notes, 6/22/10: Are Cowboys Uncertain About Doug Free?

  1. Jared says:

    For Free to not start, one of two (or both) of these situations have to occur, in my opinion.
    Free plays horribly in preseason and camp or Barron plays off the charts. I see Barron as insurance in case Free struggles/gets injured or Colombo gets injured. Other than that, I don’t think Barron will beat Free out. And if by chance he does, then that just means that Barron is playing very well and that we will have traded an underachieving backup LB for a starting LT. I realize how important the LT position is, but New Orleans got to the Super Bowl last year with, what, a 7th rounder (don’t hold me to that). I think the line will mesh well like it has in the past and we’ll be just fine.

  2. I think Free does have the advantage, but I don’t think the disparity is as great as you see it. I would label Free and Barron 1A and 1B at this point, meaning if they play similarly, Free will win the job. I don’t think Barron would have to outplay Free by THAT wide of a margin, however, for him to start at LT.

  3. Jared says:

    True. I guess i just thought that Free would probably have the advantage of knowing the playbook a lot better than Barron would.

  4. john coleman says:

    I’m saying you are right on with 1A and 1B. Columbo may be the odd man out. I hear Barron has looked good and he has the tools. If Columbo shows no ill effects from the injury, we have three pretty good tackles. I’m still for giving Igor some snaps at NT. Just to spell Rat though. But I don’t look for Siavii to go anywhere.

  5. Jared–You are right about that, although I would expect Barron to be fully caught up by camp. The issue would be his chemistry with Kosier, although Free has to work on that too.

  6. John–Do you mean odd man out this year, or after 2010? I can’t see Colombo being released this season.

    You brought up Igor at NT earlier, and I liked the idea. I think he could definitely spell Jay on some running downs, due particularly to the depth at DE. Spears, Bowen, and Hatcher are all interchangeable to me.

  7. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Let’s not forget that for a LT to be effective, the OL needs to mesh. Blocking assignments need to be understood by whole line and each lineman needs to communicate stunts, etc. to each other.

    Frankly, I don’t care who wins the starting LT position. But, once he does, let him play. Lineman often need multiple games to find their “rhythm” and substitutiing a guy after a game or two of below average play may not be the answer.

  8. Good point. I may address that in a future post.

  9. john coleman says:

    Odd man out as starter, unless Free gets injured. Which would force Barron to LT. Now if Barron wins the LT job, I think Free is better everydown than Columbo at RT. Columbo would be the backup RT for 2010. After that depends on the other such as Young and Brewster. Imo Free played better at RT last year than Columbo. The one drawback to any of this is losing Columbo’s meanstreak.

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