Dallas has sported one of, if not the NFL's best offensive lines for three years now. Ever since the team spent a first-round pick on center Travis Frederick in 2013 (shocking what a good center does for a line...), this has become one of the most dominant units in all of football.
Frederick has become one of the game's best centers, but he's part of a unit that has great talent and depth all around. Tyron Smith is now one of the NFL's best left tackles, while Doug Free is a quality starter at right tackle. The guards are no slouches either with La'el Collins and Zack Martin forming one of the better guard tandems in football. Unfortunately though, Collins is now sidelined with a toe injury on Injured Reserve, but Ronald Leary may be the best backup guard any team has and he’s now stepping in with Collins out.
As you can imagine, having all of that talent makes life easy for whoever is lining up in the backfield. In this case, it's running back Ezekiel Elliott, who Dallas drafted fourth overall in this year's NFL draft.
Elliot has been everything as advertised, but Bengals cornerback Adam Jones thinks that's more a result of Elliott's supporting cast.
"If you go back and look at some of the film, some of the holes are so wide open that my little girl could run through there,"Jones told ESPN.
On one hand, Jones is right...if he's watching the first two games against New York and Washington. However, those two games had Collins and Smith still in the lineup. Smith has since suffered a back injury that led to him missing the past two games. He’s been limited in practice this week and may play this week.
That's led to Chaz Green being the starting left tackle for the past two weeks. As an SEC connoisseur, I saw enough of Green in college to know he'd be awful in the NFL. He was even compared to former Bengals miss Tanner Hawkinson.
Thus far, Pro Football Focus ranks Green as their 69th-best tackle out of 77 eligible tackles and that’s accurate as he's been a pretty big downgrade at that spot.
Elliott has been forced to make plays on his own more over the past two weeks, and he's done just that. Elliott is leading the NFL with 412 yards on 94 carries to go with three touchdowns.
"I think a couple teams they played were very undisciplined when it comes to gaps," Jones said. "But I take my hat off to the guy (Elliott), he's been playing pretty good."
Elliott has also racked up 278 yards on 53 carries (5.2 avg) over the last two games. That's why the Bengals are weary of both Elliott and the entire Cowboys offensive line.
"You can't let them get Ezekiel going, and then you have to pressure Dak Prescott," defensive tackle Domata Peko said. "He's a young quarterback. He's been doing some great things, but at the end of the day, he's a rookie quarterback. We have to make sure we go out there and get after him."
But while Peko praised the Cowboys, he was quick to point out that sleeping on Cincinnati's defense is foolish for anyone (not named Trevor Siemian).
"We hear a lot about their offensive line and a lot about this Dallas Cowboys offense, but we'll see what happens Sunday. We might be hearing about this Bengals defense after this."
Still, Elliott and that offensive line are not the kind of bear I'd want to be poking, but good on Peko, Jones and the Bengals for being up to the challenge.