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Cowboys mailbag: Questions about Terence Steele, Michael Gallup and the Cowboys running backs

Our latest mailbag features plenty of questions about the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Every week, we take questions on Twitter and Facebook about Dallas Cowboys players and other questions surrounding the team. So let’s get right into it.

“Was Terence Steele a panic buy when they offered him his new contract? He hasn’t looked good this year”.

(Barry Griffiths via Facebook)

Brandon: I don’t think so. Remember when the Cowboys signed safety Barry Church to an extension in 2012? They did the deal in the same season he tore his Achilles and was out for the rest of the year.

The Cowboys wanted to give Church his money but at a low market cost. I believe they did the same with Steele. It was great for both parties to get a deal done where the Cowboys didn’t reset the market, and Steele walked away with an extension.

Returning from torn ACLs can be tricky the following year. I believe Steele has the same talent we saw from him in 2022 that made him one of the best run-blocking right tackles in the game.

Mike: What we’re seeing with Steele is a two-fold problem this year. The first part is he definitely looks a little stiff in comparison to last year and his change-of-direction when he plants his foot and drives off that is the biggest problem. That more than anything will be a phycological problem that Steele needs to over come and have confidence that his knee can handle that movement.

The other part is the offseason training. Most of an offensive linemen’s training for the year happens even before training camp starts. That’s when various training programs for offensive linemen start to help them learn new techniques and be more efficient and they also build up their strength and power at the gym. For an offensive linemen, the offseason is extremely important. For Steele, he spent the offseason rehabbing and trying to be ready for Oxnard.

We have to be concerned for Steele as he’s the lowest-graded starting lineman in the league, but to give up on him completely would an even worse idea by the coaches. The Cowboys have a relatively easy schedule in terms of pass rushing threat, which will help Steele get confidence. But it’s also a good time to review Steele’s level of play and evaluate him before facing the Philadelphia Eagles again.

“What’s the chance the Cowboys come out flat against a lousy Giants team, especially after losing against Philly? Seems like a real possibility. Your thoughts?”

(@MrEd315 via X)

Brandon: On my podcast with Blogging The Boys, The Writer’s Block, I slipped it in at the end, wondering if this could be the game against the 2022 Houston Texans all over again. Houston was 1-10 entering the game, with the Cowboys being 9-3 and the clear superior opponent.

However, the Texans caught them off guard with a quarterback rotation of Jeff Driskel and Davis Mills. Injuries also played a role in the game. I am in no way wishing for it to be that game again, but I don’t think you’ll need to worry about it.

The Cowboys were a few bounces and mistakes away from winning in Philadelphia, so I think they’ll be coming in this week ticked off and take it out on the Giants team, starting with their third-string quarterback. I would be a little worried if Tyrod Taylor were starting this game. Since it’s Tommy DeVito, that should be the more favorable matchup.

Mike: The Cowboys are coming off a very emotional loss so they will be looking for redemption. The team actually has a very good record in recent history of winning the next game immediately after a loss, plus they are playing at home where they hold an 11-game winning streak, which is the highest in the NFL currently. At the time of writing this, the Cowboys are also 17-point favorites to win this weekend, one of the largest spreads you will see for an NFL game. The only way Dallas loses this game is by beating themselves, but the Arizona game will serve them as a good reminder of what happens when you underestimate an opponent.

“Should we be worried about the running back room?”

(@ari_napan via X)

Brandon: The running game of the Dallas Cowboys has been struggling lately, which raises the question of who is to blame - Tony Pollard or the offensive line? In my opinion, Pollard is not the one to blame here. It's more about the offensive line as they have been inconsistent this season. Although they have shown some good performances, they need more time together to improve. The same lineup of Smith, Smith, Biadasz, Martin, and Steele have been playing together for the third time in four weeks, and the more they practice, the better they will become.

Moreover, Pollard has been more successful when running to the outside as compared to in between the tackles. He is good at creating space and making defenders miss, which leads to more yards. If Mike McCarthy gets back to using more of this in his run game, the play of the offensive line and running backs should improve.

This weekend, Dallas will face a tough challenge against Dexter Lawrence in the middle, but I am confident that they will be able to run the ball successfully against a struggling Giants team.

Mike: Tony Pollard looked a little sharper and like he has found a little extra in the tank during the Eagles game. Perhaps his injury has started to ease which means Pollard can loosen up and make those sharper cuts. But he did look better athletically during last week’s game.

His biggest negative isn’t his talent or abilities, it’s the run blocking ahead of him. Whether it’s scheme issues, coaching, or the fact this offensive line hasn’t had a whole lot of time to bind and find cohesion could be a reason why the blocking has struggled.

To go back to the first question on Steele, both he and Zack Martin were solid last year in run blocking and it wasn’t by chance the best running plays came on the right side. Zack Martin holding out at the start of the season and Steele rehabbing meant that entire right-hand side of the line lost time practicing and playing together. Which means the strongest part of the line in the run game last year is playing catch-up this year.

“Is it time to move Jalen Tolbert up and replace Michael Gallup?”

(Jossy Farries via Facebook)

Brandon: I still firmly believe in Michael Gallup, but I’m not oblivious that Jalen Tolbert has been getting more snaps on offense over the previous three games. Starting with the Chargers in Week 6, his snap percentages have been 23, 45, and 41.

The most important number to me is the 41 because it came in a close game against the Eagles last week. The Week 8 number (45) could be a tad inflated, given the game was out of hand by the fourth quarter, and Tolbert could have taken more snaps on offense as a backup.

However, trusting him to be on the field more on the road against a divisional opponent speaks to McCarthy’s growing trust in Tolbert. I believed him before the season to have more production than his rookie year, but I think there’s still a world where Gallup sees more targets than Tolbert for the rest of the season.

Mike: If you look at the wide receiver tandem of CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks, you have to ask what third receiver accentuates their skills best, Michael Gallup or Jalen Tolbert? When you think of Gallup’s style of play, that’s the physical outside downfield receiver, so how does that help Cooks? Tolbert however is the better route-runner that has a sneaky ability to beat press and get round the field with an elite ability of getting through his gears. That sounds more fitting as the third receiver playing with Lamb and Cooks. Gallup is still a good receiver, he’s just struggling so far this year, and with Cooks having an unproductive start, why not try a different receiver combination this week to evaluate this position going forward.


Who is the better WR3 for Dallas?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Michael Gallup
    (98 votes)
  • 78%
    Jalen Tolbert
    (359 votes)
457 votes total Vote Now

Be sure to check Blogging The Boys as well as @kenfigkowboy and @brandoniswrite on X and also Facebook for the weekly post, asking for your questions to include in the weekly mailbag. Many thanks to everyone who send in your questions and votes.

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