0-4 on the road, entering Lincoln Financial Field as a 7.5 point underdog, injuries to Connor Williams, David Irving, and Sean Lee Sunday night could have been a disastrous night for the Cowboys. Additionally, the time clock seemed to run out on Linehan, as reports claimed Dallas was close to firing him over the bye week. To be on the hot seat against Philly’s defense, seemed like a certainty in the coming future that Linehan’s job was long gone, no? In retrospect, everything stated above was pure speculation, but it holds legitimate weight for an offense that averaged 13.5 points away from home entering the game.
In reality, Dallas and specifically the offense, performed in a way that possibly cushioned Linehan’s seat just a little, and exhibited power like we haven’t seen all season. Rooting from the trenches, the loss of Williams wouldn’t contribute much to that attribute, but still being a first-round rookie that has started all 8 games, the loss seemed it would be impactful against a DL with Fletcher Cox & Haloti Ngata on the inside. That was until the last minute question of who would replace Williams was answered and restored with 5-year veteran Xavier Su’a-Filo.
A journeyman since in the league, making the Dallas Cowboys his third team, the OL took no steps back with Xavier’s presence. Instead, it was felt and assisted in reviving a running game that once dominated the NFL. As Ezekiel Elliot would rush for a near season-high 151 yards against a defense that has allowed one 100 yard rusher, it was from where Dallas did it.
Maintaining great success on both ends, it was runs that would be designed to the left side of the OL that paid the greatest dividends. Anytime a split-average of 13.33 and 35 yards can be relied on, best believe the defenders had near no chance on how to stop it. Zeroing in on Su’a-Filo look how pure strength completely washed the defender out of the hole for Zeke.
Then as Su’a-Filo would log all 69 snaps on offense, the interior DL for the Eagles would end the night with just one TFL from Ngata and no sacks. A combined effort by center Joe Looney and right guard Zack Martin, who deserves great praise returning after what seemed like a horrific injury to an already bad knee, they broke down the core of the Eagles defense.
If depth was an issue before for this OL, competition may have just developed. Su’a-Filo has had his fair share of struggles on previous teams, but a first impression is a lasting one, and if Williams thinks there’s any room for mistakes going forward, his job could be on the tightrope.