Philadelphia Eagles: Travis Frederick was the Cowboys’ offensive linchpin

(Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images) /

After fielding an objectively better offensive than the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019, the Dallas Cowboys may regress without offensive linchpin Travis Frederick.

The Dallas Cowboys‘ offense was far more explosive than the Philadelphia Eagles‘ in 2019 – there, I said it. I may be a homer, and this is a Philadelphia sports blog, but game represents game.

Ranking fifth overall in rushing offense behind the dynamic duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, second-overall in passing offense due in large part to the lights-out pairing of Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, and number one overall in total yards per game, Kellen Moore‘s new-look, high-flying offense was truly a sight to see, at least when it was firing on all cylinders.

Sure, the team only finished out the season with an underwhelming 8-8 record, but they finished fifth in the league in points-per-game. With noted-pushover Jason Garrett gone and a real coaches coach in Super Bowl champion Mike McCarthy taking his place, the Cowboys should be right back in contention in 2020, right?

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Well, maybe so, but it’s hard to argue that the team that eventually takes the field in Week 1 will be as good, let alone better than, it’s 2019 counterpart.

Why? Simple, the team lost its best offensive player.

Is that a potentially polarizing statement? Sure, when you have four of the highest-paid players at their position, with a quarterback reportedly asking to become the fifth, the Cowboys’ offense is filled with fantastic offensive players, but in my opinion, Travis Frederick was their best overall player, and by far their most important.

A five-time Pro-Bowler and one-time All-Pro, Frederick is the rare player who not only played all seven of his professional seasons in the same place but started every game he was active for. Outside of a lost season in 2018, an unfortunate byproduct of being diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome during the offseason, Frederick played all 6,327 of a possible 6,327 offensive snaps in games he was active for, in addition to 434 special teams snaps.

Over 96 games of action, Frederick was only called for 10 holding penalties, four false starts, and 10 total penalties, or one penalty every 316 snaps.

Just for context, Jason Kelce, another candidate for the best center in football, had 36 penalties over the same timeframe, with two and a half times as many holding penalties and three times as many false starts.

Furthermore, when Frederick was on the field, the Cowboys had the top overall rushing offense in football as per The Herd’s Colin Cowherd, versus the 22nd ranked unit with his backup, Joe Looney, starting all 16 games in 2018. That wouldn’t be a huge deal if the Cowboys signed a top-tier center in free agency to replace Fredrick, but instead of targeting a top center on the open market, specifically Connor McGovern or Graham Glasgow, they simply brought back Looney on a one-year deal.

Continuity is key, but not if said player is average at best.

With Byron Jones now a member of the Miami DolphinsMaliek Collins a member of the Las Vegas Raiders, and Robert Quinn a Chicago Bear, the Cowboys’ new-look defense under ex-Falcolns defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will surely struggle to recapture their place as the 10th ranked passing defense in 2019. That means the team will have to win games by outscoring opposing teams (duh) with offensive shootouts far more likely.

That shouldn’t be a huge deal, except that Frederick was one of the best pass-blocking centers in the NFL, having surrendered his last sack all the way back in Week 9 of the 2014 season as per Cowboyswire, whereas Looney is again average at best.

With the Eagles’ defensive line bolstered considerably by the addition of Javon Hargrave, the return of Malik Jackson, and a slew of secondary signings, Jim Schwartz‘s unit will not only generate more pressures at a higher rate but do so with tighter coverage on the back-end.

I guess the Cowboys could use the 17th overall pick on the best center in the 2020 NFL Draft but said player, Tyler Biadasz from Frederick’s alma mater Wisconsin, is considered a Day 2 prospect and probably isn’t ready to start as a rookie.

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Had Travis Frederick opted to stick around for one more season, maybe, just maybe, the Dallas Cowboys’ offense would be even better than it’s 2019 iteration, as Kellen Moore is back and Mike McCarthy’s addition could add some much-needed toughness to an already formidable unit, but with hundreds of millions of dollars committed into only a handful of players moving forward, it’s hard to see a scenario where Dallas is more explosive in 2020 – much to the chagrin of Philadelphia Eagles fans.