Many are making the argument for Zack Martin at right tackle.
The time has come for McCarthy to break the glass.
Will he do it? Probably not. Indications are veteran Ty Nsekhe will take over for La’el Collins in the wake of the starter’s five-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Martin is a Pro Bowl fixture at right guard, arguably the league’s best. But with Collins out, he’s also the team’s best right tackle, a point proven last season when the club was forced to swing him outside for two games.
Who gives the Cowboys a better chance to win this weekend’s matchup against Los Angeles Chargers pass rusher Joey Bosa? Martin or Nsekhe? Martin or Terence Steele?
Do you even need to ask?
Moving Martin to right tackle is only part of the equation. The other involves his replacement.
COVID-19 kept Martin out of the regular season opener against Tampa Bay. Connor McGovern started in his place and graded out well against Ndamukong Suh and the Buccaneers defensive front.
The options at right tackle.
“Today being Monday, I think it’s all in the discussion and we’ll see where it takes us,” Moore said.
The burning question is obvious, even if Moore isn’t going to answer it. Are the Cowboys going to plug one of their depth tackles – Terence Steele or Ty Nsekhe – into Collins’ vacated right tackle spot, or are they going to shuffle things by moving Zack Martin to that position, where he experimented for several games last season?
Philosophically, Moore said he agreed with the idea of putting the five best offensive linemen on the field. Connor McGovern handled himself well against Tampa Bay last week while Martin sat out due to COVID-19, so it makes sense why many think Martin could best be used by changing positions.
Having said that, Moore did acknowledge that you have to assess the fully body of work from when team activities began back during the spring.
“You’ve got to also balance out what we’ve done throughout the offseason and where we’re at, where players are at in different stages of whether it’s their career, or health status,” he said. “We’ll find a combination here as the week goes on and see what suits us best.”
Steele and Nsekhe seem to offer opposite solutions to the same problem. Approaching his 36th birthday, with 12 years of professional experience and 81 games of NFL football under his belt, Nsekhe is one of the most veteran members of this entire roster.
“I think he’s handled the transition really smoothly being a veteran guy that can process a different language that can hop in there and play ball,” Moore said.
You take what the defense gives you and Dak took advantage.
Cowboys: Dak Prescott limited Ezekiel Elliott’s Week 1 production
Elliott and Prescott both entered the NFL in the 2016 Draft, but Elliott developed a perception as one of the NFL’s most elite running backs. Their recent contracts prove how each was valued by the Cowboys: Elliott quickly signed a massive deal, while Prescott’s negotiations dragged out for months.
While Prescott was sidelined last year, Elliott played and demonstrated decreased productivity. Former Cowboys running back Maurice Jones-Drew ranked Elliott as the sixth-best running back heading into 2021. Elliott posted career-lows last season, running just under 1000 yards last season.
“This season feels like a make-or-break year for Zeke,” Jones-Drew wrote in his review. “The line is healthy, Dak is back and patience is wearing thin around Dallas. Based on Zeke’s social media accounts, he’ll be ready.”
Last season, the Cowboys battled a bevy of issues — but with a healthy Dak Prescott and offensive line, it will become abundantly clear whether Thursday’s game was about reads or about Zeke.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Los Angeles Chargers picks, predictions: Who wins NFL Week 2 game? - Jeremy Cluff, AZCentral
The Cowboys are going to have another tough game ahead of them this week.
LA Times: Expect a shootout in Los Angeles
Adam Burke writes: Dak Prescott threw the ball 58 times in Week 1 against Tampa Bay. The Cowboys were forced to keep pace with the Buccaneers’ offense, but Mike McCarthy had no reservations about putting his QB in harm’s way. Even with reports in the preseason of a tired shoulder, Prescott was firing away. Prescott had at least 47 pass attempts in four of his five full games last season. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore seems to prefer throwing the ball. Prescott should be throwing early and often against the Chargers as well. Justin Herbert threw 47 times in his first game with new coach Brandon Staley and new OC Joe Lombardi, who called a ton of pass plays in 2014 and 2015 with the Detroit Lions. With all these pass attempts in the forecast, the over 52 looks a tad low on the fast track of SoFi Stadium. The Chargers had six red zone trips in Week 1 but scored only two touchdowns. The Cowboys had four trips inside the 20 and scored only one touchdown. We should see lots of yards, lots of passes and lots of scoring opportunities.”
Having a backup plan is always a good thing to do.
The Cowboys have spent the past four days defending Zuerlein, with special teams coordinator John Fassel the latest to express support.
Even as the Cowboys repeatedly say all the right things about their faith in the veteran kicker, they are signing a kicker to the practice squad. Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports Lirim Hajrullahu will re-sign with the team.
The Cowboys cut Hajrullahu on Aug. 25 after activating Zuerlein from the physically unable to perform list. Zuerlein had offseason back surgery and rehabbed during training camp.
Zuerlein missed a 31-yarder and an extra point as well as a 60-yarder. He did kick a clutch 48-yarder with 1:24 remaining to give the Cowboys the lead for all of 1:22 before Bucs kicker Ryan Succop made his game-winner.
These are all very positive signs for the Cowboys.
Needless to say, Dallas fought hard all game long against the defending Super Bowl champions and even took the lead late into the fourth quarter. Even though they gave quarterback Tom Brady too much time to get in field goal range (1:24), the team was on full display for all of America to see. They would wind up covering the spread, with the Cowboys never trailing by more than nine points throughout the game.
This matchup between the Cowboys and Buccaneers was likely the perfect way to start the 2021 season. It was a back and forth affair between quarterbacks Tom Brady and Dak Prescott. As a result, this game brought in an uptick in viewers compared to last year’s opening game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans.
Although the Buccaneers got the last laugh, winning by a score of 31-29, there is probably a lot of positive takeaways from this loss. For starters, competing with one of the best offenses and defenses in the league likely shows how different this team is from a season ago. Here are three takeaways from the Dallas Cowboys season opener loss.
Cowboys roster news: Randy Gregory to COVID-19 list, Zack Martin back from it, Michael Gallup to IR - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
The Cowboys gain two linemen but lose a pass rusher and wide receiver.
Gregory being moved to the list frees up only one roster spot for the Cowboys, the other was created by placing Michael Gallup on injured reserve. He is now unavailable to the team for at least three weeks.
Back to Gregory, first and foremost we hope that things are well with him from a health perspective. But his absence would not be ideal against a Los Angeles Chargers team that did a great job handling the Washington Football Team front of all squads.
Today is only Monday so there is certainly hope that Gregory could be back in time to be able to play in Los Angeles six days from now. If it isn’t obvious by now this season can (and unfortunately likely will) change on a dime given the current environment that we live in.
Also of note the Cowboys signed wide receiver Robert Foster to the practice squad. They have also brought back kicker Lirim Hajrullahu to the group as well, perhaps as a sign that they are not totally comfortable with Greg Zuerlein at the moment.
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