In what could only be described as his worst performance of the season, Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles is surely a game that Terence Steele wants to put in his rearview as fast as humanly possible. Steele surrendered four sacks and 12 pressures in the loss, and while there are many factors that go into wins and losses, it’s hard not to look at Steele’s performance and wonder just how much his play impacted the end result.
The numbers for this season are a concerning situation that you hope can be rectified. According to Pro Football Focus, through eight games this season, Steele has given up six sacks, has committed five penalties, and has a 45.4 overall grade. Not ideal for a guy who just signed an extension in the offseason.
The NFL is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ league and unfair or not, you are only as good as your last performance. While what was on display Sunday afternoon was not his shining moment, it shouldn’t be, and won’t be his defining moment. Sunday against another division opponent presents a chance to get the sour taste of last week out of his mouth and a quality outing would go a long way for not just him, but the team as well.
Terence Steele continues to battle back from injury
It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact - Steele had a major knee injury last season, and despite his quick turnaround and ability to not miss a snap this season because of it, it is still fair to assume that it may still be playing a factor for him this year either mentally or physically. We have seen players across the league and on the Cowboys talk about the mental hurdle of coming back from a major injury is, and how they weren’t right for most of or all of the next year.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy on RT Terence Steele, who underwent surgery last year on a torn ACL, MCL and MPFL: “Like anything. anytime anyone has a major joint injury, that first year back, it’s a challenge. …There are things he has to continue to work through because of the… pic.twitter.com/A7JFhq6vp6— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) November 6, 2023
The most recent case is with wide receiver Michael Gallup who admitted that he did not trust his knee and just could not get over the mental block in his own head to just go out and perform to the best of his ability. Whether this is playing a factor in Steele’s struggles is probably only something he could tell us, but it is fair to assume that it may play at least a small part in it.
Either way, the Cowboys need the best from Steele moving forward. Things are not going to get easier, and despite the Giants' 2-7 record and poor play this year, they have a very formidable pass rusher in Kayvon Thibodeaux who is surely anxiously waiting to get his turn to pick up where the Eagles left off.
Cowboys need a return on their investment
Steele’s future is secure with the Cowboys as he signed an extension this offseason with hopes of being the Cowboys' right tackle for now and into the future. However, if Steele’s injury permanently altered his abilities in any way going forward, it could become tense around that situation and you just hope this is more about confidence and rust rather than the new level of expectations for him.
Total pressures allowed by #DallasCowboys offensive linemen this season:— Nick Harris (@NickHarrisDC) November 6, 2023
Tyler Smith - 4
Tyron Smith - 5
Tyler Biadasz - 14
Zack Martin - 13
Terence Steele - 28 (including 12 vs. PHI)
Chuma Edoga - 11
Steele has a chance to get on the right track
Not all is lost for Steele. Anybody who speaks about Steele talks about his focus and his drive and he has built a reputation for being one of the hardest-working players on the team. An undrafted free agent signing out of Texas Tech who has found a way to become a starter and earn a second contract is already commendable, but what people around him believe he can do in a bounce-back should be all we need to know about Steele.
Dak Prescott on Terence Steele bouncing back pic.twitter.com/YvQmRqX6CN— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) November 7, 2023
Sunday provides an opportunity to quiet the noise, get the focus off of him, and show that it was simply a bad night. Steele has the ability to do that and has proven doubters wrong before. He just may need to do so one more time, starting in Week 10.