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10 Answers: Did The Offensive Line Take A Step Back Under Frank Pollack?

(Editor's Note: Last summer, the staff attempted to answer 20 questions about the Cowboys' roster leading into training camp. With the 2015 season complete, we're picking out the 10 best and most applicable questions and reviewing how our predictions fared.)

9) Will the offensive line's production change with Frank Pollack taking over as offensive line coach?

Bryan:I went into the season believing that, with Frank Pollack as the line coach, this group would not miss a beat. I based this on the reasoning that Pollack worked closely with Bill Callahan for the previous two seasons -- not only on the field but in the meeting room, as well -- so not much would have changed. Where I think we missed the boat on this transition is how we rated this offensive line to begin with. The bar was set tremendously high and anything less than the performance from 2014 was going to be considered a disappointment. In my opinion, this line didn't play poorly in the big picture but where it did struggle was with penalties. Other than Travis Frederick, that was a big issue and from my experience that is more on the players than the coaches. I will give Pollack credit for getting La'el Collins ready to play each week. That was a move that I did not expect, but it appears that it has worked out well for the club going forward.

Nick: You can argue this from both sides. Positively, the running game still produced a 1,000-yard rusher who didn't start all the games and the O-line ended up with three players in the Pro Bowl again, including three named to the second-team All-Pro squad. On the other side, the O-line was the most penalized unit on the team by far and this team was awful on 3rd-and-1 and red-zone scoring. I lean towards the latter stats and would say the O-line took a step backward.

Rob: Let's be honest here – the offensive line set a high bar for themselves last season. With their help, Tony Romo led the league with single-season franchise records in passer rating (113.2) and completion percentage (69.9), and DeMarco Murray did the same with 1,845 rushing yards. When you look at what the line did statistically in 2015, there was plenty to like: according to Pro Football Focus, they allowed the fewest pressures in the league (109) and Darren McFadden had a 1,000-yard season despite getting only 37 carries in the first five games. Now, the team's short-yardage issues were a problem. I don't think you can say the line had the same year as 2014, but we're also talking about one of the most dominant seasons production-wise since the '90s. It's also a totally different dynamic with Romo and/or Dez Bryant missing in 13 of 16 games. Overall it was a good year under coach Frank Pollack, and they'll look to be better next year with La'el Collins entering his first full season as a starter. In my opinion, they're still the strongest unit on the roster.

David:I think it's worth reiterating what Bryan said – penalties were a serious problem for this unit in 2015. The Cowboys' offensive line drew 16 more penalties in two fewer games this year as opposed to 2014. Now, it'd be easy to blame that on the rookie La'el Collins, but it was actually the two All-Pros – Zack Martin and Tyron Smith – who were the guiltiest culprits. I don't know if you peg that more on Frank Pollack or the players themselves, but it's absolutely something that needs to be cleaned up in 2016. After that, there's no denying the pass protection could stand to improve. The Cowboys ranked 13th in the league with 33 sacks allowed. That's not bad, especially given the rotating cast at quarterback, but it's something a unit this talented can improve on. For my money, I'm not sure there's a better run blocking line in the league than these guys. Darren McFadden reached the 1,000-yard mark in just 11 starts – and without the benefit of a Pro Bowl quarterback to take the pressure off him. That's pretty damn impressive. All of that said, it was a good year for this group – but not quite up to their potential, in my opinion. It should serve as motivation for 2016.

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