Travis Fredrick; you da real MVP
There have been many debates about the fabled Cowboys offensive line and who is the best player on that line. Some have postulated that Left tackle Tyron Smith is the best player. He was voted the 39th best player in the league in the annual players poll. Some have argued that Zack Martin is the best player on the line. He was voted the 71st best player in the annual poll. I’d argue that it’s neither of them and that the most important player on the cowboys offensive line is in fact Travis Fredrick.
Travis is an incredible athlete and is the lynch pin behind which the Cowboys have built their outside run game.
One of the hardest blocks an offensive lineman is asked to make is the reach block. It requires an offensive lineman to get themselves on the playside of a defender and block him in the opposite direction when you started on the backside of the defender. The further away from you a defender is, the tougher the reach block is. Travis Fredrick is so good at the reach block he can reach block a defender a whole gap and a half away from him.
To put that into context, lets say that the play is going to the right, Fredrick could block a defender who was lined up on the right shoulder of the guard on his right hand side. It’s an incredibly difficult block, which Fredrick made to look routine, all the while he had to secure the snap as well.
Unfortunately, Fredrick has been struck with a horrible auto-immune disease. I hope he’s on the mend for his sake and for his family’s sake.
The Cowboys have certainly missed his presence on the line. Last season, according to football outsiders the Cowboys had the 4th best run blocking offensive lines who were also ranked 15th best in pass blocking. This resulted in Dallas being the 2nd ranked rushing attack in the NFL by yards per game. We also can remember the heights to which Dallas scaled in rushing in the 2016 season. Now that Fredrick is no longer in the line-up the change has been startling. Again, according to football outsiders, the Cowboys are now the 11th best run blocking offensive line. The drop of seven spaces in the rankings are concerning enough, they are the 30th ranked pass blocking unit. Both Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are still on the team, although they’re not entirely healthy, so the large drop off in production could arguably be down the Travis Fredrick being out of the lineup.
Of course, it’s not just the loss of Fredrick which is plaguing the Cowboys this season. Plenty of other factors have resulted in the 4-5 record the Cowboys currently own.
Jason Garrett has a lot to answer for. If you need someone for your Rembrandts covers band when the friend’s song comes on then Garrett is your man. However, the lack of spark, creativity or ingenuity on the offensive side of the ball ultimately stops with him. I personally think Rod Marinelliis one of the most underrated coordinators in the league. The fact he manages to get a half decent defence with the less than stellar players he has at his disposal if a credit to him. He’s still managing to get a decent performance out of the current unit, especially this season where defence mostly appears to be optional. The Cowboys woes are clear and they’re centred very much on their offense.
I really wanted to write this article to talk about Travis Fredrick and how good I think he is. However, it’s impossible to disassociate the absence of Fredricks with the offense’s struggles. Two years ago Dallas had one of the best offenses in the league and steam rollered all who stood in their way. Their outside zone run game was a joy to behold and without Fredrick in the line-up they just can’t run it as effectively.
Get well soon Mr.Fredricks and hopefully we’ll see you back on the field of play very soon.
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