When it was announced that the Dallas Cowboys would be losing starting right tackle La’el Collins for five games it was cause for concern. All you had to do was look back at the 2020 season for the Cowboys and see that Terence Steele was a turnstile for defensive ends through the first part of the year and consistently needed help blocking pass rushers. But toward the end of last season Steele started to find his footing as a pass blocker. This offseason, head coach Mike McCarthy praised Steele for his development, and after his performance against Joey Bosa last week, it was well-deserved. He still had help from the tight ends and running backs, but overall Steele was able to shut down one of the better pass rushers in the NFL.
This is the NFL, though, and things change from week to week and you can expect teams to go at Steele over the next four weeks in a variety of ways. This week he will be going against a very aggressive Philadelphia Eagles defense with three very capable pass rushers who will have a chance to attack Steele. Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett, and Ryan Kerrigan are all experienced pass rushers that the Eagles will most certainly lineup at different times against Steele in order to get pressure on Dak Prescott. From there, Steele will be seeing guys like the Panthers Brian Burns in week four, the Giants Oshane Ximines in week five, and the Patriots Kyle Van Noy, and Deatrich Wise Jr. in week six. All very talented pass rushers who will cause trouble for Steele and the Cowboys.
If Steele can get through these next four games the way he did against Bosa last week, then the Cowboys are going to be in very good shape on offense with a real chance of winning each of those games. As important as Prescott is to this offense they can’t afford to have him under constant pressure and risk injury. Teams won’t be attacking Tyron Smith, he’s a proven top-tier left tackle in this league, which makes Steele the obvious target teams will look to exploit. They now have game film on him from this season and these pass rushers and defensive coordinators will be looking to that Chargers game film to find weaknesses in Steele’s game in order to get to Prescott.
If they are able to find any weaknesses they will be sure to exploit them immediately to gain an advantage. So right now, the Cowboys go as Steele goes, and it will be up to him to make sure that he’s learning from his mistakes and studying game film on himself as well as on the pass rushers he will be facing. Steele will also have to make sure he steps up his game with regards to the running game as well. Collins is known as a mauler in the running game and the Cowboys routinely run behind him and guard Zack Martin.
The team will need Steele to continue sealing off his blocks and getting to the next level on linebackers so running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard can hit the running lanes quickly. Steele will have to bring his “A” game over the next few weeks if the Cowboys really want to show they are a playoff-worthy and potentially a Super Bowl contender.
Over the next four weeks the Cowboys will go as Steele goes, and he will be tested.