It has been quite the week for the Dallas Cowboys. Questions, concerns, and criticisms levied against the team over the offseason all reared their ugly head during Sunday night’s loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were exacerbated by Dak Prescott’s injury which leaves the team in a vulnerable place.
We discussed this idea on the latest episode of The Ocho on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
It is hard to expect much from this team in its current state especially with Cooper Rush lining up at quarterback over Prescott. This would be true in any case, but it is even more so against a stout team like the Cincinnati Bengals who will be at AT&T Stadium on Sunday afternoon (get ready for the sun glare).
There are a lot of questions about this team and not a lot of answers. Here are three questions that we will be looking to answer by Sunday afternoon specifically, though.
Will Jalen Tolbert be inactive again?
One of the more disappointing parts about last week came before the game even began. It actually came before game day itself.
The Cowboys spent all offseason telling us how much they believed in rookie third-round pick Jalen Tolbert. While Tolbert’s future is still a completely undetermined thing, his being inactive for his first NFL game is not exactly a step in the right direction.
What happens if Tolbert is inactive for a second game in a row? It is certainly starting to seem like that is at the very least a possibility.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said rookie WR Jalen Tolbert is a “step behind the other guys” on special teams because of hamstring injury in spring. Been learning every WR spot. “The last two weeks, he’s been crushing it in practice. I look for him to push for future opportunities”— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 15, 2022
In no way should that be viewed as some sort of failure on Tolbert’s part if he is inactive for a second game in a row, but the Cowboys largely built their roster in a way that showed they were depending on him. To not have him highlights how poor that plan really was.
Additionally, as many have noted, it isn’t exactly encouraging that Tolbert can’t find his way onto the game day roster in a world void of Michael Gallup and James Washington. Simply put the time has to be now.
What is going to happen at right tackle?
During his earlier radio appearance this week, Jerry Jones hinted at a potential change at right tackle by noting that Jason Peters (who hasn’t even been on the Cowboys for two weeks) could play right tackle. Obviously that isn’t breaking news but it goes against what many believe to be the role Peters is/was going to play for this team.
The facts are that Jason Peters will one day be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his work as a left tackle in the NFL. That isn’t to say that he can’t play on the right side, but he isn’t playing at the age of 40 to play on the right side. And with all due respect he certainly isn’t doing it for Cooper Rush.
Peters isn’t playing RT. These fans are delusional and think this is madden. Your best 5 is gonna be— Duke Manyweather (@BigDuke50) September 14, 2022
RT- Steele https://t.co/0sCpxERca3
If I’m Jason Peters, at 40, with a HOF career, RIGHT NOW, I’m in no rush to get on the field with the starting QB out, and I’m definitely not considering playing RT. https://t.co/2v9pOvsRD5— Duke Manyweather (@BigDuke50) September 14, 2022
This can’t be breaking news to the Cowboys so why would Jerry say it then? Terence Steele did not exactly play well against the Buccaneers which is obviously troubling, but bailing on him after one game would be sort of ridiculous.
Steele serves as the poster child of sorts for decisions that the Cowboys have made along the offensive line. It is true that they molded him into a fine player as a rookie UDFA and he has more than delivered relative to expectation as an undrafted free agent. He seemingly gave the staff the confidence not only to move on from La’el Collins but to ride with a combination of Josh Ball and Matt Waletzko at swing tackle based on how the team developed Steele.
Yanking Steele, especially so early, would be a bad look to say the least. The best players need to play but are we certain that forcing Peters to play the right side is what’s best? If Connor McGovern is still out then that means Matt Farniok is your starting guard and if you really have to make a decision between the two who are you choosing to start - Farniok at left guard or Steele at right tackle?
How much worse can this all really get?
It’s hard to remember a time when so many accepted defeat so early in the year. The Cowboys were DOA for the 2022 season opener and it feels like everyone is feeling that. It was surreal hearing Cris Collinsworth openly criticize the team’s roster building philosophy on the broadcast during the opener.
So does that mean that the team ahs already hit the bottom? There is some kind of peace in knowing that things cannot get any worse, but is that even true? What if the offense is even more inefficient with Cooper Rush as the starting quarterback? A firing or benching is typically something that buys time, but a storm is brewing and we are stuck in the middle of the ocean with nowhere to sail.
Typically coach firings happen when a team is entering a bye week so as to provide as much time as possible for whatever turnover or change. It doesn’t seem ridiculous to suggest that the season could wind up so badly that Dallas is forced to make a change. Imagine if Mike McCarthy doesn’t even get to make the trip to the first game out of the bye, which oh by the way just so happens to be at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers.