Since entering the NFL with the Buffalo Bills in 2004, Jason Peters has been a constant presence in the league. Believe it or not, he played as a 328-pound tight end in college for the Arkansas Razorbacks. For a person with his size to play tight end in the best conference in college football, the SEC, is a testament to his freak athleticism. Eventually in 2007, Peters would slide over to left tackle and never look back. Just last year, according to Pro Football Focus, he graded out at 77.5 which is considered playing good football on a consistent basis, and for someone who was 39 at the time, that is even more impressive.
For some reason, however, since signing with the Cowboys, has only logged 48 snaps to date. Something seems off about this, and it’s time to take a deeper look at the situation.
Question 1: Who is currently the Dallas Cowboys starting five along the offense line?
At this moment the unit features, left tackle Tyler Smith, left guard Connor McGovern, center Tyler Biadasz, right guard Zack Martin, and right tackle Terence Steele. From center to right tackle is clearly where the strength of this unit comes from. Zack Martin is arguably the best guard in the NFL these days, and Terence Steele continues to improve with each game that he plays in.
The issue with this offensive line as currently assembled is the left side. When Peters signed on the dotted line to join the Cowboys ahead of Week 1, he was supposed to shore up the left tackle position which had a major void with the injury to future Hall of Famer, Tyron Smith. Smith is expected to miss most, if not all, of the season. Dallas seemed dragged their feet when looking to replace Smith which meant when Peters signed, he wasn’t going to be able to suit up in Week 1 as he needed to get into game shape.
By some fortunate circumstance, Tyler Smith, who was supposed to be the starting left guard in 2022, slid over to left tackle and to date, has done a stand up job given the early hand he was dealt. Through seven games, the Cowboys first-round investment is looking very promising. Due to the quality play of Smith, it was then decided to slide Jason Peters inside to left guard where he would compete with 2019 third-round pick Connor McGovern for the starting gig.
Question 2: Who should be the starting left guard this year, Peters or McGovern?
If we were going straight off of what they’ve done in their respective NFL careers, then the answer is obviously Jason Peters. However, going strictly off of what both Peters and McGovern have done in the past instead of how they are performing currently would be a recipe for disaster. The previous two seasons, Connor McGovern was much improved from when he arrived in 2019, but thus far in 2022, his Pro Football Focus grade is just 45.1 and it appears he’s in a bit of a slump. Watching every game in 2022, he is the weak link among the starting group along the offensive line. At this stage of the game, he’s become more of a liability which isn’t someone you want protecting the franchise quarterback who just returned from yet another injury.
Although it’s apparent that McGovern is the weak link, the Cowboys have yet to put McGovern on the pine and start Jason Peters. In limited action this year, Peters has looked much better than McGovern has. Peters, in his first snap of the season for Dallas made a nice block to spring Tony Pollard for a 46-yard gain.
Knowing the inadequate play of McGovern should eventually lead to his benching and Peters promotion to the starting lineup. Regardless of their nearly 16 year age gap, the nearly 41-year-old Peters is still a solid player in the league and is still the better player of the two. Peters also provides size and strength advantages in comparison to McGovern given the 20 pound weight difference between them. Weighing nearly 330 pounds, Peters has a great frame to be on the interior of the offensive line. McGovern, at 308 pounds, which under normal circumstances is a large human being, is actually slightly below the NFL weight average of an NFL offensive lineman. Being a little lighter than the normal at a position like guard makes sense as to why he has trouble at times with having a good anchor and preventing the pocket from collapsing.
Peters is not only the bigger player, but given his pedigree, is a better player even at this stage of his career as compared to McGovern. Eventually, well hopefully, the Cowboys see it this way and put Peters in as the starting left guard. This will solidify a known weakness on the roster, and most importantly, it will give franchise quarterback Dak Prescott a better chance of staying healthy the rest of the season.
The organization brought Jason Peters in for a reason right? And it wasn’t just for him to sit on the bench. It’s time to put him in the starting lineup and see exactly what he has left in the tank. Hopefully this becomes a reality in the near future.