The Dallas Cowboys are facing life without Tyron Smith for probably all of this coming season, although reports are that the team is hopeful that he can return in December. We will see if that winds up being the case or not. You can put that claim in the “we’ll believe it when we see it” box, and it would be wise for the Cowboys to operate as if they will not have him back at all this season.
But even if we consider December as a magical point of Smith’s return, that means he will miss at least 11 games for the team this season. He missed six a season ago and 14 during the 2020 season, all told he is going to have missed at least 30 games in a three-year span.
This time period just so happens to be the Mike McCarthy era in Dallas. There is no question that this is an important season for McCarthy as the Cowboys head coach, and life without Tyron Smith at left tackle is far more difficult than life with him.
We are far away from the Dallas Cowboys offensive line that existed when Mike McCarthy took the job
If you think back to when Mike McCarthy was hired to be the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, the offensive line was among the very least of our concerns.
While it feels as if McCarthy was hired just yesterday, two years is a lifetime in the NFL. The group that we thought would be protecting Dak Prescott when McCarthy signed on the dotted line was stout:
- LT: Tyron Smith
- LG: Connor Williams
- C: Travis Frederick
- RG: Zack Martin
- RT: La’el Collins
Yes, Travis Frederick was still on the team when McCarthy first took the job. He would obviously retire shortly after but still it stands to reason that McCarthy thought he would have a stable and proven center on his team.
Retirements happen, though. But McCarthy has had to deal with more challenges. Looking forward with Tyron Smith as we did a moment ago, he will have coached a majority of his career in Dallas without the all-world left tackle. La’el Collins was on this team for two years with McCarthy and was unavailable for the first one (he also was suspended after the first game of the second).
Thankfully Zack Martin rebounded in the health department after some trouble in 2020, but for the most part McCarthy has had to deal with a carousel of movement that his predecessor did not near the end of his career.
This isn’t an apology letter on behalf of Mike McCarthy, but it is no secret that this is an important year for him and things got more difficult with the Tyron Smith injury. It is worth mentioning when evaluating his performance (both past and future) with the Cowboys that he is in many ways not exactly being dealt ideal hands (we didn’t even mentioning missing his starting quarterback for 11 games during his first season).