Jones encouraged by moves up front

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones laments the team's poor line play last season, actually the last two seasons.

It's one reason the team went out and signed two guards in Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings the first week of free agency to complete what has been a totally overhauled offensive line from the last two years.

Jones is so confident about the Cowboys' moves and improvement on the line that he says the team can focus on taking a defender at the top of the draft rather than an offensive lineman.

Although Jones feels good about where the Cowboys are now, he can't help but lament the moves and decisions the team made up front the last two years.

He blames no but himself.

"I believe that we've been compromising the offensive line for different reasons for two straight seasons," Jones said. The moves not only compromised

the Cowboys on the field but mentally as well. Jones said quarterback Tony Romo was mentally affected by the questions up front and it showed up in his play.

"That did not keep us, though, from having Tony (Romo) and having us all say, 'We've got to watch out if our opposing teams think we're too light in the britches in there,'" Jones said. "There was no question that Romo had that on his mind when we started the season. And I know that it impacted our year from having that on his mind, not only physically but mentally about the base that we had in the front."

The problems started two years, according to Jones, when the Cowboys stayed a year too long with guard Leonard Davis and tackle Marc Colombo.

The Cowboys whiffed a lot on blocks up front.

They tried to adjust in 2011 by releasing Davis and Colombo before camp and turning the position to some younger players. They also made a move with Andre Gurode at center, cutting him and giving the job to Phil Costa.

The Cowboys got younger and more athletic but they also got smaller, weaker and more inexperienced up front.

The liked the way Costa and rookie Bill Nagy played in training camp and simply got carried away, Jones said.

"I personally got carried away with, 'Hey, we're going to be able to go. These guys are playing well enough as a group. Costa - throw him in there. They're playing well enough as a group that we'll be able to not be too compromised and they'll evolve and get better and better,'" Jones said. "That was a mistake."

It was a mistake that eventually compromised the team Jones said.

But the Cowboys believe they are now past that because of the emergence of 2011 top pick Tyron Smith at tackle, another year of experience and strength for Nagy and Costa and the addition of Livings and Bernadeau.

So much so that they can concentrate on defense in the draft and Romo can focus on looking downfield rather than the rush on front of him.

"I'm really pleased with everything we've done for the future on the offensive line, and we're not through," Jones said.

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