Cowboys' offensive line must clean up play

IRVING, Texas -- Considering what the Dallas Cowboys invested in their offensive line in terms of money and draft picks this offseason, you'd expect better from the unit three weeks into the 2012 campaign.

The blame for the inconsistency goes from the coaches to the players.

The reasons for the inconsistency stem from training camp injuries that caused chemistry issues, more physical defenses and the adjustments to new line coach Bill Callahan's teachings.

On Monday, as the Cowboys offensive linemen were finishing up meetings at Valley Ranch with Callahan, coach Jason Garrett was asked about the bunch. It didn't sound good.

He used words like "soft" when describing the blocking up the middle and mentioned right tackle Doug Free as someone needing to be firmer with his blocks, while also noting that his quarterback got hit too much.

"I thought at times we played well. At times, we didn't play as well as we needed to," Garrett said Monday. "That's both in the run game and in the pass game. Some of that was because we were behind the chains a little bit in some obvious pass type situations where they could pin their ears back a little bit. So that's a collective type of thing. But other times, I thought they stood in there."

The Cowboys invested millions in the offseason to improve the offensive line. They signed guard Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau to contracts totaling a little over $30 million. Free moved from left tackle to right tackle to accommodate the emerging Tyron Smith, a first-round draft pick in 2011.

The team also hired Callahan and touted him as one of the best in the league when they decided not to re-sign long-time offensive line coach Hudson Houck.

Callahan teaches a zone blocking scheme, and it appears there is still an adjustment going on regarding the techniques used.

This is Callahan's job to fix.

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