By Keysha Hogan
Being in the center isn’t easy.
Everyone looks to the center for guidance, support and understanding. No matter if you are simply the center of your household or clever enough to sit in the center square, it is the one place where all eyes gravitate.
In the NFL, the center’s job consists of more than snapping the ball. Before the snap, a center is able to evaluate the defensive formation and make critical decisions for the first line call. A center needs to take into account the position of the linebackers and determine how the offensive line can adjust to be in the most optimal position. After the snap the center may also be responsible for designating the pass and run blocking assignments. It’s not just an important position; it’s a crucial one.
I realize that sounds like a job description, but our Cowboys are in a pinch to field this position, so I thought we’d help out. Phil Costa, the starting center, is battling a lower back injury that may cause him to miss a few games. And now, back-ups Kevin Kowalski and Bill Nagy are both out of the game due to ankle injuries. But somehow, in the offseason rush to draft a tougher defense, the decision was made to not draft or sign another center.
But now, things have changed and Costa is possibly more hurt than anyone is letting on and this has left the team scrambling to pick up a veteran to sign. It’s tough to analyze was this a unilateral Jerry Jones decision or were other brought in to consult? Either way, it feels like the previously forgiving ride on the learning curve is going to run very short for Jason Garrett if this season ends badly.
In the meantime, David Arkin, who first snapped a ball for the Cowboy’s coaching staff just 2 short weeks ago is being groomed for the position. As you may remember QB Tony Romo has a troubled history on the snap. Feel free to Google “Tony Romo Snap” and watch the words “fail” and “fumble” assist you through your search results. And even if Arkin is able to cleanly snap the ball and make those tough calls, we need Romo taken care of. He has been on and off the injured list since his debut and a false move from a newbie at center could easily end his season very early.
There’s a chance I’m making this up, but I know there is a deeply profound Eastern philosophical saying that boils down to “Out of sync, get centered.” That’s what the Cowboys must do during pre-season. There is no reason that the search for a new center couldn’t have taken place weeks ago. It’s obvious that Costa’s back pain stems from his tough 2011 season and putting in overtime as center.
Try to steel yourself during these preseason games and let’s hope that by the September 5 opener this problematic issue won’t still be at the center of our attention.