FRISCO, Texas – It was a bit of a shock to see reporters scrambling for quotes from – of all people – offensive linemen. But that's the reality of this news cycle.
Offensive linemen tend to pride themselves on doing, not saying, and as a result they don't often have a lot to say. But two days after the Cowboys decided to fire their offensive line coach, parting ways with Paul Alexander, it was bound to prompt a response.
"I've never been through something like this and we appreciate everything Coach Alexander did for us," said Zack Martin. "This is not a blame game on one person."
Martin's not wrong – it is uncharted territory. Throughout his five years in the league, the Cowboys' offensive line has been one of the league's best. They've never needed to make a midseason change, and they've certainly never been the focal point of so much criticism.
To hear it from Martin's neighbor on the line, La'el Collins, it's something they take personally in their bid to improve their play.
"Absolutely, you take it personal through adversity and also through great times," Collins said. "You have to be able to be mentally strong through adversity, and you have to be able to also be mentally strong through the ups."
To help them get back on track, the Cowboys will be turning toward Marc Colombo. Across the board, several different linemen said Colombo's experience as both an NFL player and a Cowboy will bring a lot to their offensive line room.
"He's been a player and recently been a player," Martin said. "I think he just connects with us well. He just brings a ton of energy to our group and we're excited to run with him."
There's also the addition of Hudson Houck in an advisory role. The longtime offensive line coach has made stops all over the NFL, including two stints with the Cowboys. He was the offensive line coach when the organization drafted Tyron Smith – which wasn't lost on the four-time All-Pro.
"It's always great to see an old face, having Hud here," Smith said. "Hud knows me better than anybody. He helped me out a lot my first year. He's going to be a big help having him here."
The Cowboys made the move on Monday, and they'll return to practice on Thursday, so the news cycle is about to change. Starting soon, it won't be about the new coach and the focus will be on whether the change produced the desired result.
For his part, Collins said he didn't think the Cowboys will have to switch too much to get back to their old, dominant ways.
"I don't think it'll be that much of a change," he said. "It's more so just us being able to do a lot of different things that we've done in the past, just kind of getting back to us playing at a high level and being more effective."
All eyes will be on whether that holds true. But, as Martin reiterated, there's more than one person to share the blame. Starting Thursday, the goal will be to fix it.
"We still have to play better and we still have a long way to go," Martin said. "But we're going to get back to work and hopefully keep improving."