The Resurgence Of Doug Free
By Kenny Decker
A noticeable reason for the Cowboys’ offensive success this season is the strong play of their offensive line. Specifically, RT Doug Free has stepped up. There are not too many statistics for offensive linemen that show how well or poor they are playing. But there are a few that show the impact they are having while on the field. Free has been part of an offensive line that has only given up nine sacks in four games and has paved the way for the Cowboys’ running game to average 4.6 yards per carry.
But one important, noticeable stat about Free is penalties. Last season, Free led the NFL in penalties with 15; this year he has just one. Penalties are one of those things that you don’t get commended for not doing, but when you commit one, everyone notices. So Free has not been costing the Cowboys important yardage with undisciplined false starts and holding penalties.
Free, at a point last season, lost his starting spot in the offensive line. He started splitting time and it was clear he was not worth the money that the Cowboys were paying him. So this past offseason, he took a pay cut. They restructured his contract so Free would be making less money, and this season, he has proven to fans and the Cowboys front office that he is worth a big contract. Also, working more with offensive line coach Bill Callahan has likely been beneficial to Free.
As happy as Cowboys fans may be with the way Free has been playing this season, Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray are likely the most thrilled. This may just be the new Free we are seeing, and not the one who was constantly being called out by the referees for false start or holding penalties or the one lunging backwards helplessly as he got beat off the line. This is one Free that Cowboys fans would like to see on the Cowboys’ offensive line for many years going forward, and they can only hope that he can keep this up. A strong offensive line can take teams places. Now, if only we could get some consistency on defense.