SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Halfway home.
Hey, I get excited about the football season starting as much as anyone, but this isn't exactly what we wait all summer for.
So, two down and two to go.
For Cowboys fans, they might look at this as the regular season is just three weeks away from Sunday night.
The Cowboys' organization might look at it differently. For example, we've got three weeks to figure out our depth on the offensive line.
That's one of the things I took away from Sunday night's loss to the 49ers at Levi's Stadium – this offensive line has some questions to answer.
Naturally, if you take a pair of First Team All-Pros out of the starting lineup, there's going to be a drop. And ding, ding, we saw it.
I mean, did we really just think DeMarco Murray suddenly got twice as good last year? This lightbulb just came on all of a sudden and he set a Cowboys' franchise record in rushing? Or maybe, just maybe, the addition of a guy like Zack Martin takes this line from solid to one of the best ever.
If you follow me on twitter, thanks for that, but also you might have seen that I tweeted: "Zack Martin might be the real MVP of this offense." Farfetched? Maybe, but there's some serious merit to this.
No holes at all in the middle of the line. And it's not just Martin, but Ron Leary as well. But I know fans wanted to see more of Darren McFadden, and I agree with them. What they saw had to be both disappointing, but also incomplete. There really wasn't anything to evaluate because there was literally no room to run.
Now, obviously the first-team line didn't play long. So the solution there seems pretty easy. Let's see Martin and Tyron Smith back in there, along with Leary and maybe things might look a tad different.
The real issue is the backup offensive tackle because for the second straight week, Darrion Weems hasn't looked too hot from this view. Now, I'm sure the coaches will want to dive deeper into the film and grade him out for the entire game. But, he had a penalty on the third play of the game – hands to the face that was declined – gave up a sack in the first half, got beat a handful more times both inside and out, and had another holding penalty that was declined.
Honestly, I didn't see a lot of positive plays either because we all know this offense certainly didn't move the ball at any point in the game.
It must be pointed out that Weems has never played in an NFL regular-season game. So the fact that he's struggling here in the preseason doesn't exactly give us hope that it'll just get better when the Giants come to town on Sept. 13.
Now, I understand the goal is for Weems, or any of the backup linemen, to never play. But with Free's injuries last year, coupled with Smith being banged up this training camp, you have to make sure the drop off on the line doesn't hurt the team.
Right now, there's no way the Cowboys can feel that great about Weems being the backup at both spots.
Is it time to move La'el Collins to the outside? I'm not sure he was that great either inside, but at least he's a talented guy who played it last year at a high level. We're talking about a possible first-round draft pick at tackle had it not been for an untimely circumstance. Had he been picked in the first round at tackle, his team would've likely played him this year. That doesn't mean he's ready or will be, but at this point, I think it's worth giving him a shot.
We all know the Cowboys could move Martin to the outside and play either Collins or Mackenzy Bernadeau at guard if they got in a pinch. Personally, I would try to keep Martin inside because that's where we know he's an All-Pro. But if you had to, I still trust Martin with limited practice time at tackle to get the job done if called upon.
This is the time of year when the Cowboys want to be clearing up these question marks. But with two games down and two to play here in this preseason, it doesn't look like Dallas is close to figuring out its depth on the offensive line.