It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys are still trying to figure out exactly who will start at more than one position on the offensive line. This is precisely why the recent suspension of Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller is music to the ears of many Cowboys fans.
Speaking of Cowboys fans, most are well aware of who Miller is thanks to his decorated career at College Station. As a defensive end for the Texas A&M Aggies, Miller was nothing short of dominant while playing in both the 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes—Miller played outside linebacker in the latter.
Miller led the NCAA in sacks in 2009 with a total of 17 and would receive numerous other awards for his overall performance as one of the top college defenders in the country.
Miller was chosen second-overall in the 2011 NFL Draft and has yet to disappoint, at least not until recently. The three-year veteran linebacker has chalked up 30.0 sacks in his two seasons, and feel free to consider his current situation and six-game suspension a blessing for the Cowboys.
The Dallas regular season schedule shows a home game against Denver on Week 5. Remember, the Broncos will also bring quarterback Peyton Manning to this game, given his suspension-free history.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has already proven that he can win a game against Manning. In fact, Romo is 1-0 against Denver's future Hall of Fame quarterback, who will always be remembered for his historic run with the Indianapolis Colts. Romo's win came during the 2006 regular season in just his fourth career start. Manning would go on to win his only championship in Super Bowl XLI against Chicago later that season. Manning lost to New Orleans three years later in Super Bowl XLIV.
Yes, Manning is carrying the Broncos franchise in the same way he did the Colts for so many years. He led the Broncos to a 13-3 record last season, but lost in the AFC divisional playoffs to eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore. Manning still plays at a Pro Bowl level, but the absence of Miller should help the Dallas offense keep pace.
You don't want a great pass-rusher taking advantage of the kind of leads that Manning can generate. Former Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney tallied most of his 107.5 career sacks while playing with Manning under center. Like Freeney, Miller rushes the passer no matter what the score or system. Even he has illustrated an acute ability to capitalize on Manning's presence in just a single season.
Lining up as a rookie in '11 while Denver tried to decide between quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn, Miller reached the quarterback 11.5 times and forced two fumbles. When Manning showed up in 2012, Miller jumped to 18.5 sacks to go with an alarming 6 forced fumbles. He added his first career interception as well last year.
Does this sound like the kind of guy you want right offensive tackle Doug Free and rookie tight tend Gavin Escobar trying to block on October 6?
Perhaps the Dallas offensive line will come together okay between now and then, at least prior to the meaningless preseason finale next weekend in Arlington.
However, there's just no denying the benefit of not having to face one of the NFL's best pass-rushers in Miller. Dallas plays numerous quarterbacks, including Manning, this season that have won several Super Bowls over the last several years. Even with a new defensive scheme and a questionable offensive line, the Cowboys already seem to have a solid chance of winning this important, inter-conference match up at home in less than two months.
All stats courtesy of ESPN