IRVING, Texas – As far as offensive coordinator Bill Callahan is concerned, personnel isn’t a problem for the Cowboys’ offensive line.
At least, that’s what Callahan claimed Thursday when asked whether he believed the Cowboys needed to make offensive line a draft priority.
“I like our guys,” Callahan said. “I like the guys that I have. Anything else in addition to that is a bonus. The guys that I have, you walk into that room and you get motivated by their passion, by their toughness and what they go through on a daily basis. …
“I love these guys. I want to keep coaching them and whatever we add to our team we add. But I love the group that I’ve got right now.”
To put Callahan’s comments in context, it must be noted that his primary goal during Thursday’s meeting with the media was to avoid saying anything inflammatory. It isn’t wise for an assistant coach to publicly give the general manager a wish list, especially when half the coaching staff was just replaced.
Jerry Jones shouldn’t need a public push from Callahan to make addressing the offensive line a priority.
Right tackle Doug Free, graded by Pro Football Focus as the No. 66 offensive tackle last season, could be a salary cap casualty. Even if the Cowboys are comfortable starting Jermey Parnell, who split time with Free late in the season, they need to address the depth at tackle.
There is a drastic need for depth and competition in the interior line. Mackenzy Bernadeau, the 50th-ranked guard in Pro Football Focus’ grades, is a candidate to slide to center or be demoted to a backup. There are question marks at center, where Ryan Cook was a reasonably adequate stopgap while Phil Costa followed up a rough first season as a starter by missing most of the year with injuries.
However, Callahan was adamant that the Cowboys’ offensive line performed better last season that it appeared at first glance, despite the least productive rushing attack in the franchise’s 16-game history and frequent problems in pass protection.
“Going through the cut-ups, it’s interesting because what you think we saw during the season isn’t always what it is now when you turn the film on because you’re turning the film on with a fresh set of eyes and you’re looking at it in a different manner,” Callahan said. “When I look at it, I’m highly critical. I’m a little bit fresher because I got a little more sleep. I look at it in the sense that everything we do we can get better.
“I thought our line got better during the course of the year. It’s hard to justify it with not making the playoffs and the ranking that we had. And I understand that. I would tell you in terms of technique football, which is everything in line play, the little idiosyncracies that you have to execute and perform are so huge. I think we’re getting there. I don’t think we’re there yet. But I see improvement through the course of last season and I’m encouraged by that.”