The Dallas Cowboys promoted Frank Pollack to offensive line coach in 2015 following the departure of Bill Callahan and on the wave of a tremendously successful 2014 season.
In Pollack’s first season leading the offensive line, three starters were named to the Pro Bowl: left tackle Tyron Smith (third), center Travis Frederick (second) and guard Zack Martin (second). Right tackle Doug Free was a steady and reliable presence, starting all 16 games, While Ron Leary (four starts) and rookie La’el Collins (11) shared the left guard position. Picking up where they left off in 2014, the offensive line opened holes for running backs to gain 1,890 yards on the ground (ninth), and combined with the 2014 rushing total of 2,354 yards, gave the Cowboys their highest total (4,244) in back-to-back seasons since the team gained 4,282 rushing yards over the 1992-93 seasons.
As the unit’s young core continued to progress and impress, with Smith, Frederick and Martin all earning consecutive Pro Bowl nods and second-team All-Pro nods, the Cowboys added an athletic and imposing player to the left guard spot with Collins. Collins, a projected first round draft pick in the 2015 NFL draft, saw his stock fall prior to the draft and was left to sign with a team as a rookie free agent, at which point he chose the Cowboys. The big, mauling run blocker joined the starting lineup after the fifth game, and punished opponents in the run game, getting to the second and third levels of the defense and flattening smaller defenders. After Collins was inserted into the lineup, the Cowboys rushing attack averaged 144.5 yards-per-contest and 4.9 yards-per-carry as opposed to 106.6 and 4.1 in the first five.
The unit will look to carry-over their dominance into the 2016 season, as the starting lineup will come back intact and ready to block for a running back group that added the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, running back Ezekiel Elliott out of Ohio State, and Alfred Morris, who has totaled the second-most rushing yards in the NFL since 2012, trailing only Adrian Peterson with 4,713 rushing yards.
With a renewed focus on ground-and-pound football, the Dallas Cowboys ran through their opposition in 2014, compiling 2,354 yards on the ground, the ninth-highest total in team history, and a 12-4 record, advancing to the Divisional Round of the playoffs for the first time since 2009. A heavy investment in building the line through the draft, with three first round picks used on linemen in the past four drafts, allowed Dallas to have its most potent and balanced offensive attack since the 1990s.
Running back DeMarco Murray rushed for a franchise-record and NFL-leading 1,845 yards on his way to AP Offensive Player of the Year honors, while quarterback Tony Romo had the time in the pocket to throw for 34 touchdowns and complete a career-best 69.9 percent of his passes, in large part due to a stout offensive front. The team also led the league with a 32:36 time of possession figure.
Tyron Smith cemented his place as one of the NFL’s stalwarts at left tackle, protecting Romo’s blindside and earning his second consecutive Pro Bowl nod and a first-team All-Pro selection. Smith also earned NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors for October, becoming only the second offensive lineman (Brian Waters in 2004) in the award’s history to be honored.
Frederick grew immensely under Pollack’s watchful eye in his second season, guiding the line’s protection schemes and anchoring the league’s best run blocking unit, earning himself the first Pro Bowl nod of his young career. The final piece of the puzzle came in the form of first round rookie Martin, who made the switch from tackle in college to a day-one starter at guard for the Cowboys, a transition aided in large part to the tutoring of Pollack. Martin brought a tenacity and toughness to the line, and earned first-team All-Pro recognition while earning a Pro Bowl selection for his impact on the field. Martin became the first rookie lineman in Cowboys history to make a Pro Bowl.
The 2013 offensive line laid the groundwork for a Cowboys offense that finished the season fifth in points scored (398), eighth in yards-per- carry (4.48) and allowed the seventh-fewest sacks (35) while also finishing with the fifth-best protection index score (70.7) in the league. The group was anchored by Tyron Smith, who was named to his first Pro Bowl after only allowing 1.5 sacks in 16 starts at left tackle. Frederick was an immediate contributer for the Cowboys offense, starting all 16 games at center and allowing only 3.5 sacks in addition to paving the way for Murray in the run game. The offensive line as a whole improved in 2013, helping the offense finish with the third-fewest negative plays (79) in the league, a total that was 17 fewer than the previous season.
Pollack came to Dallas after a one-year stint as the offensive line coach for the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders finished eighth in passing offense in 2012, fourth in the AFC, and ranked sixth in the AFC in total offense.
Prior to joining the Raiders, Pollack spent five seasons with the Houston Texans as assistant offensive line coach. In 2011 Pollack helped coach a group that blocked for two running backs that gained over 900 rushing yards as the Texans set a franchise record with 153 rushing yards-per-game, good for second in the NFL. The line included second-team All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown and center Chris Myers, who earned his first Pro Bowl berth.
The 2010 offensive line group paved the way for a record-setting season, as the Texans ranked third in the NFL with a franchise-record 6,186 yards of offense and a team-record 290 points while blocking for the NFL’s rushing (1,616 yards) and touchdown (18) champion, running back Arrian Foster.
In 2009 the line provided protection for the NFL’s leading passer, Matt Schaub, who threw for 4,770 yards and 29 touchdowns. The 2008 line featured the same five starters for all 16 games, marking a first in Texans history. His first year with the Texans and coaching in the NFL came in 2007, as the line allowed just 22 sacks.
Before joining the professional ranks, Pollack began his coaching career at his alma mater, Northern Arizona, in 2005 as the co-offensive line coach. He was promoted to the offensive line coach in 2006, when the NAU offense led the conference in scoring (34.4) and passing (267.2) and finished second in rushing (137.9).
Pollack was a sixth round draft choice by the San Francisco 49ers in 1990. He played two years for the 49ers, 1990-91, before moving to Denver, where he played from 1992-93. He finished his playing career back with the 49ers from 1994-98, having played 90 career games and helping San Francisco to a Super Bowl championship in 1994.
Pollack graduated from Northern Arizona with a degree in advertising in 1990. He was inducted into Northern Arizona’s Hall of Fame in 2010.
He and his wife, Wendy, have three sons, Frankie, Carter and Wilson.