We are tossing and turning. The temperature is a little off, but we have checked in and turned the fan on to help us out. Sound machines offer a little bit of solace although we would have to get up to turn them on. Ultimately, we are here lying in a bed that we did not choose to make and are trying to figure out how to go to sleep. It wasn’t us who put these sheets on or left the night light in the perfect spot to annoy our vision. Yet here we are. Lying in it.
The Dallas Cowboys made quite the bed of their tackle situation over the course of the last few months, and while nobody is interested in providing any gross overreaction to Saturday night’s preseason outing, the exhibition contest did serve as the latest underscoring of the fact that this team is in quite the pickle.
They need tackle help badly.
The first preseason game highlighted how poorly the Cowboys handled tackle depth this offseason
When healthy there is no question that Tyron Smith is among the very best left tackles in the National Football League. If we are talking about when healthy then he might even be the very best.
But the likelihood of that remaining the case for an entire regular season is so miniscule. Smith has never played an entire season in the Dak Prescott era. Heck, he hasn’t played an entire season since Valley Ranch served as this team’s world headquarters.
Everybody knew this, though. The Cowboys knew it and chose to release La’el Collins on the other side of the line anyway. Obviously Collins only manned the right side as far as tackle duties during his time in Dallas, but his presence there allowed for Terence Steele to serve as the line’s sixth man which was a high point of comfort for many.
The Cowboys wore thin with Collins though, and moved on. Fine. So be it. We aren’t here to re-litigate that issue. But what goes up must come down which means that if Terence Steele is going to go up to full-time duties on the right side, something must come down to serve as depth behind him and subsequently Smith.
Saturday night did not show any signs of the Cowboys understanding this notion. Over the last few months the team has only added one tackle (as far as legitimate resources are concerned) in rookie Matt Waletzko, and he was injured at the very beginning of training camp. This left Josh Ball to man duties all to himself and he finished with the second-worst pass-blocking grade on the team against the Denver Broncos according to PFF. It is only one game, but coupling that with everything we have seen from him to this point proves that he cannot be the chosen designated survivor.
Hysteria surrounding the inevitable utilization of a swing tackle this season was exacerbated after the game when Mike McCarthy confirmed that Tyron Smith injured his ankle during last Thursday’s scrimmage against the Broncos (something we talked about last Friday). This boat is taking on water at an alarming rate and the Cowboys still seem to think it has a high level of buoyancy.
Josh Ball is not an option and Matt Waletzko may be in line for a redshirt year with this team. The Cowboys will have to make five roster cuts by Tuesday, but they would be wise to also make an addition or two at the tackle position. The fate of this season could depend on it.
It isn’t just frustrating that the Cowboys are in this position right now. What is particularly maddening is that this has been predictable for six months and that nobody involved with the construction of the team seemingly sought to address it in advance.