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Why I’d Play Phil Costa at RG

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At NBC, I proposed starting Phil Costa (or perhaps Ronald Leary) over Mackenzy Bernadeau at right guard.

In 2012, Bernadeau allowed a 3.2 percent pressure rate and six sacks—both poor numbers for an interior lineman. Bernadeau got beat by all types of defensive linemen, giving quarterback Tony Romo nowhere to step up to throw. In the running game, Bernadeau was even worse. The Cowboys averaged just 3.18 YPC with Bernadeau at the point-of-attack last year. While you might think the ‘Boys ran inside primarily in short-yardage and goal line situations, that’s not quite true. The average distance-to-go for a first down when the Cowboys ran behind Bernadeau was 7.78 yards—just below the average of 8.01 yards on all runs.

The problem, as many see it, is that the Cowboys don’t have a known commodity to step in for Bernadeau. I think this is a mistake made by coaches around the league—taking the “sure thing,” even if he’s not that good. But the Cowboys probably have a better option waiting behind Bernadeau, even if they’re not yet sure who it is.

In second-year man Ronald Leary and interior lineman Phil Costa, the Cowboys have two potential fill-ins for Bernadeau. Costa, who has guard experience, was sensational during his limited time at center in 2012. The coaches also really like what they have in undrafted free agent Leary, meaning the ‘Boys really have numbers on their side at the guard position. If they’re willing to hold an open competition for the starting right guard spot, chances are either Bernadeau, Leary, or Costa will step up. Based on 2012 play alone, Costa seems like he’d be the best fit.

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