The preseason is over for the Dallas Cowboys and we are all very anxious to see how this 53-man roster is going to shake out. A number of different positions can go different ways. Will the Cowboys keep four running backs? What about four tight ends? Do they make any kind of decision or creative move with all of their apparent depth along the defensive line?
It goes without saying that the headlining decisions will come along the offensive line given the Tyron Smith injury from this past week. The Cowboys were underprepared from a depth standpoint at tackle before Smith’s injury, so now they are challenged even more.
Not adding proven depth to tackle position would show the Dallas Cowboys not learning a single thing
We have discussed all of the ways in which the Dallas Cowboys can go about “replacing” Tyron Smith, and there are two common denominators across them all: each one has its merits and none of them make us feel particularly good.
The most likely option for the Cowboys is kicking rookie Tyler Smith out to left tackle. It is true that Dallas drafted him as the heir apparent along the left side, and while they did work him there in June, he has received all of his serious work throughout camp and the preseason exclusively at left guard. So this was hardly some plan that they engineered.
Nevertheless the Cowboys EVP who majored in engineering at Arkansas noted after the Cowboys’ preseason finale that this does seem to be the plan. He reminded the world that Tyler Smith did play left tackle in college.
The decision hasn’t been finalized yet, Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones said, but he expressed confidence in Tyler Smith at left tackle. “What did he play in college? I mean, it’s not foreign to him to stand out there and be a left tackle.” Believes best option at LT is in building.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 27, 2022
Again, there is logic to moving forward with Tyler Smith at left tackle. But again, there are obvious cons to each possible path that the Cowboys can choose to make their own adventure out of. Say that Tyler Smith winds up stepping in right away and succeeding (obviously we hope that this is the case). That would obviously be great.
But the idea that this one simple switch can be flipped and that everything is suddenly fine overall is misguided. Moving Smith accomplishes the goal of finding a new left tackle, but now you have to find a new left guard. That “new” is technically old as it is likely Connor McGovern who starts there, but he was supposed to provide depth along the interior. Now that is gone.
It is true that the Cowboys literally have other players on their roster to follow along this domino effect. Matt Farniok clearly becomes the top interior depth piece with McGovern’s elevation. With no disrespect intended to any of them, that is simply not enough.
Tyron Smith’s injury creates a new hole at left tackle but filling that hole does nothing to address the pre-existing issue at swing tackle
As noted the Cowboys had a problem at swing tackle prior to Tyron Smith’s injury which is highlighted by the fact that neither Josh Ball, nor the suddenly-returned Matt Waletzko, are the consensus top option to start at left tackle in this new reality.
So if the Cowboys move Tyler Smith and then elevate Connor McGovern, they suddenly have to figure out not only who their new swing tackle is going to be (again, a problem they were currently already facing) but now who their new interior depth is going to be since they have already had to flip that switch.
This offensive line group is not deep enough to just keep raising players on the priority list and claim that the job is done. Veteran help is more than needed it is vital to the team’s long-term success here even if Tyron Smith is somehow able to return in December.
And just to be clear, by “veteran depth” we mean legitimate and viable veteran depth. A classic move in this situation would be to bring in somebody that simply just literally qualifies as depth but is not established enough so as to challenge either Tyler Smith at left tackle or Connor McGovern at left guard. Those wouldn’t be actual solutions they would just be a means to an end.
Stephen Jones said throughout the offseason that the Cowboys were saving up cap space in the event that they needed it in the future, building up a rainy day fund of sorts. It is pouring outside. It’s time to dip into the stash and bring in help that is more than just a body to take up a locker.