Mailbag: Damien Wilson’s future and uncertainty at left guard

You have questions, Cowboys Nation. We have answers. Actually, more like educated guesses. Who am I kidding? Let’s just throw it against the wall and see if it sticks.

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The Wilson Dilemma

“Are the Cowboys going to end out cutting Damien Wilson?”

– Hudson via Facebook

I would have said absolutely the day we learned of his arrest, but the vibe coming from Frisco seems to be different.

The details and fallout of Wilson’s arrest are not pretty (HERE and HERE) but the Cowboys don’t seem in any particular hurry to address it themselves. Given the molasses approach they’ve taken to this point, I can only assume they’re going to keep him and let the NFL administer a punishment. I think we’re probably looking at a four game suspension for Wilson to start the season.

We spoke this week about how Jason Garrett believes in the “right kinda guy” until he doesn’t. This appears to be another scenario where the Cowboys like the player more than they dislike the unacceptable behavior. Dallas is not unique in this sense, as every team holds on to troubled talent until the PR blowback becomes too strong. But the Cowboys often like to pretend that they levitate over the rest of the league on a gravity-defying invisible throne of moral superiority, and that’s simply not the case.

Is the Wall Crumbling?

“I really don’t feel good about Collins and whoever is going to play guard. Do you think they make a trade at some point?”

– Ramon via email

The offensive line certainly seems to be at its most vulnerable point in the last five years or so.

It became fashionable to hate on Doug Free in recent years (I levied my own criticisms) but he was a solid player for them on the right side. I was never in favor of purging Ronald Leary, even after La’el Collins was signed. I thought Collins should take Free’s job, not Leary’s.

Now both Leary and Free are gone, like many Cowboys fans had petitioned for, and there are some serious questions remaining. Collins is a great talent, and I think he makes for a better tackle, but he’s being asked to pick up a position he hasn’t practiced in three years, and he’s playing a brand new side of the line. Learning the right side of the line after playing your entire career on the left side is like giving a pen to a right-handed person and telling them, “learn to write left-handed over the next five months and then write a 10,000-word essay with perfect penmanship.”

I think Collins will figure it out and play well, but there will be some growing pains. I’m less certain about the prospects of running Jonathan Cooper, Byron Bell, or Chaz Green out at left guard. While there is a lot of talent at left tackle and center to hide some potential deficiencies, you still need adequate play at left guard to sustain dominance along the offensive line. Perhaps Cooper, a former top-10 pick, can turn his career around and live up to his pre-draft scouting report. Maybe Green stays healthy for the first time since entering puberty. Perhaps Bell plays better at guard than he did in spot duty for Tennessee two years ago. That’s a whole lot to hope for, though. As legendary Cowboys quarterback and broadcaster Don Meredith would say: “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.”

As to whether or not the team will make a trade to fortify any questions along the offensive line, they certainly could, and I don’t think the Cowboys would hesitate to plug any potential leaks on their most dominant unit. But offensive linemen don’t come cheap, and anyone being purged early in the season is likely on a level equal to Cooper, Bell, and Green. At this point you just have to hope that one of those three can come through for you.

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