Some observations from the film room of the Dallas Cowboys victory over the New York Giants:
If there were questions about the defensive line and how they would play, there were just as many for the offensive line. Even up to the final week of training camp, Jason Garrett and this staff really were not sure who their best five were going into the Giants game. Of the group that started of Tyron Smith, Ronald Leary, Travis Frederick, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Doug Free, I was convinced this was their best five and last night for a large part of the game, I thought they outplayed the Giants defensive line. By no means were they perfect but against a front that had a mix of pass rushers and powerful inside run players, they were able to hold their own.
I liked what I was able to see from Leary and Frederick, both who were making their first starts in the league. These young players were able to work together and at times picked each other up when there was a break down or two. There were plays that Frederick was struggling to maintain his sustain and just when he was on the verge of losing contact, Leary was there for him. There were points in the game where Frederick was able to return the favor.
I was very impressed with the power that Leary played with in handling veteran tackles Cullen Jenkins, Linval Joseph, Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson, which is no easy task. These guys might not have a wide variety of pass rush moves but they play with so much power in their game, they are very difficult to deal with because they push the front of the pocket.
Travis Frederick was solid in the middle in handling his assignments and make the line calls. I did not see any huge mistakes or mental errors that you might have expected from a player that lacked his experience. There was a time or two where he was knocked down on to a knee when trying to deal with the power of these Giants defensive tackles but again, there were no major issues or problems in his game.
From the Scout's Eye in the press box, it appeared that Mackenzy Bernadeau might have struggled the most of the Cowboys offensive linemen against the Giants but the tape told a different story. Bernadeau wasn't perfect but I felt better much better about his game overall. There were times where he did get over [embedded_ad] powered at the point or he allowed his man to make a back door tackle on a cut off block, but was not like this happened every play. There were plenty of times where he was able to keep the front of the pocket clean and along with Frederick and Leary, give Romo a place to stand to make a throw. In the running game, he had a nice pull to his left on a Murray run out of the pistol formation where he was able to get around the down blocks of Leary and Frederick to get on the second level to clean up a linebacker.
With Brian Waters working toward a return to the NFL in the next two weeks, it appears that the spot he will take is that of Bernadeau. If that is the case, then the depth at the guard spot should improve. Bernadeau could also give this line some depth at center which he didn't play poorly at last season.