When you evaluate the performance of the starting offensive line in Monday night's game against the Raiders, at first glance you want to cast a critical eye at center David Arkin and the way that he played. But, it is really more than that.
On tape, Arkin was not the problem and for the number of snaps that he played in the game in his first start at center, it was actually a nice effort on his part. I'm not saying he was perfect, but to believe he was the reason they couldn't run the ball or give Tony Romo enough time in the pocket is dead wrong.
Arkin's game started off with a nice pick-up on an inside twist on the ball that went down the field to Dez Bryant. Two plays later he makes a good cutoff block on the front side against Tommy Kelly, but Derrick Dockery can't handle his man so there was no gain. There was the pass down the field to Cole Beasley out of the slot where again he adjusts to Kelly on the outside, then takes him across the pocket holding him along the line of scrimmage. On the play-action stretch play going to the left, Arkin goes across the pocket and helps Dockery with his man, but on the front side, Doug Free has trouble on the inside with defensive end Lamarr Houston, who beats him as Romo is rolling to his side. Romo avoids Houston but has to dump the ball to Witten for a loss of two.
On the next play, which was second-and-12, Arkin has Kelly on his left shoulder. At the snap, Kelly is able to get the corner, but it's a screen going to his left. Dockery blocks the defensive end as does Tyron Smith. Arkin releases Kelly up the field, which was a mistake. Felix Jones is not in position to block Kelly, giving Romo no chance on the play to even set his feet, the result a sack. Clearly Arkin has to hold his block longer.
To start the next series, Jones is handed the ball going left, Dockery and Arkin are on the double-team but Dockery doesn't help Arkin much with it. Arkin gets stuck along the line fighting nose tackle Jamie Cumbie, but on the backside, Mackenzy Bernadeau doesn't cut off the linebacker, who makes the tackle for a short gain.
My point is that other than Smith, it was more about the other guys having a miss here or a technique problem there that was the real problem. On the offensive line, all it takes is one guy to hurt how the group functions and on Monday night, some did that more than others.