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Connor McGovern Getting Left Guard Reps; Starter Change Coming?

It appears the Dallas Cowboys are considering a change at left guard. After a penalty-filled start to 2021 for Connor Williams, backup Connor McGovern is reportedly getting a serious look in practice this week as the potential new starter.

Earlier this week, after Williams drew three flags during Dallas’ big win over the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday, head coach Mike McCarthy made a clear statement that a possible change was coming.

Michael Gehlken on Twitter: “Cowboys LG Connor Williams was flagged three times Sunday, pushing his penalty count to an NFL-high 13 on season (10 accepted). Mike McCarthy: “Connor clearly understands the way he performed. We have a very competitive offensive line room, so we’ll see what the future brings.” / Twitter”

Cowboys LG Connor Williams was flagged three times Sunday, pushing his penalty count to an NFL-high 13 on season (10 accepted). Mike McCarthy: “Connor clearly understands the way he performed. We have a very competitive offensive line room, so we’ll see what the future brings.”

What wasn’t clear on Monday was who might replace Williams. The Cowboys have a couple of options and especially with the potential that OT Tyron Smith is returning from an ankle injury this Sunday.

Smith’s return would free up Terence Steele, who’s played the last two games at left tackle, to go back to the right side where he’s better suited. That would allow La’el Collins to take over at left guard, which he played for the first few years in Dallas before converting to right tackle.

Given how well Steele played at RT this year during Collins’ five-game suspension, the idea’s been out there that moving La’el to guard would be how the Cowboys got their five best offensive linemen on the field together.

But with the latest reports out of Dallas, it seems a change at guard this week is going to involve Connor McGovern.

Michael Gehlken on Twitter: “Graduation day could be near for Cowboys backup Connor McGovern. As his confidence grows, he is seeing more premium work at left guard before Chiefs game. La’el Collins: “I think he is a hell of a player, and he is going to be a hell of a player.” https://t.co/hHaQxChN5S / Twitter”

Graduation day could be near for Cowboys backup Connor McGovern. As his confidence grows, he is seeing more premium work at left guard before Chiefs game. La’el Collins: “I think he is a hell of a player, and he is going to be a hell of a player.” https://t.co/hHaQxChN5S

Now in his third season, McGovern has been an intriguing figure since the Cowboys drafted him in the 3rd Round in 2019. There was talk back then that, had he not suffered a torn pectoral muscle in training camp, McGovern might have beaten Williams for the starting job as a rookie.

But Connor Williams was good enough in 2019 that Dallas stuck with him in 2020 and saw growth in the role. Williams did well last season even with the rest of the offense imploding around him, earning a shot to return to the job this year.

Unfortunately, penalties have become the big issue now. And while he’s better physically than in past seasons, Williams still has times when his lack of strength as a guard is far too apparent.

A former 2nd-Round pick himself, the job’s always been Connor Williams’ to keep. But his struggles have opened the door now for McGovern, and the other Connor may offer some additional incentive for the Cowboys to make the switch.

While Williams’ rookie contract expires after this season, McGovern still has one year left on his. A successful move to McGovern now would offer Dallas continuity this offseason and the ability to let Williams walk in free agency without losing a starter.

Again, this financial incentive is only considered because of what’s happening on the field. The Cowboys wouldn’t pull Williams unless his performance was the issue.

Nothing is official yet; Connor Williams is still the starting left guard for the Dallas Cowboys until McCarthy announces the change or we see it happen in a game. But even if he doesn’t start this Sunday in Kansas City, Connor McGovern may very well take the job before the day’s over.

What do you think?

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Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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  1. Good article Jess! I’m always concerned about out line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball as our offensive line goes so goes our offense! I’ve been disappointed in CW so far this year with his penalties but maybe trying other folks in his spot might bolster his play some! I’m also pleasantly surprised by the progression of TS! I don’t think he is a left tackle but he is coming along good on the right side! The more we get these guys playing time and experience the better off our line will be!

  2. TS. CM, TB, ZM, LC. IMO, best five. Williams holding penalties may cost us, at some point, in a close game. Plus he can be bull rushed.

    Collins is better than Steele. McGovern/Williams may be a closer call, but on lieu of the penalties etc. would go with CM, as he would hold up better against bigger DTs.

  3. The league high 13 penalties tells u CW is getting beat alot and holds out of desperation. I always thought he was a natural tackle (his position in college) due to his lack of strength, which is exposed much more at the Guard position. Gotta shore up the protection up the gut. Let’s CM audition for the starting job he hopes to inherit next year. If he bombs move CW back there.

  4. This is like the long running joke about the backup QB being every fan’s favorite player. Williams biggest problem is that he’s not Zach Martin. It would be great to get more tape, evaluate McGovern but to what cost? If he would be such an upgrade over Williams, as many fans believe, why hasn’t he been starting since week 1?

  5. CM hasn’t been starting since week 1 because CW hadn’t yet become a penalty magnet who was seemingly holding on every play. Coaches also value continuity, which is particularly important on the OL. But the play of CW had become so poor, they just had to pull the trigger.

    Again, he doesn’t have the skill set of a Guard per se. He is Guard trapped in a Tackles body. He’s better in space, but he simply can’t anchor against powerful DTs.

  6. I’ve been waiting on this for a while now!! Connor Williams and his penalty problem will be the reason we lose games eventually!! His penalties have definitely been the reason we ended drives a few times, and he almost cost us the game against the patriots a few weeks ago too!! Enough is enough, it’s time to bench him before he does start costing us games!! Now we haven’t really seen much of Connor McGovern in game action yet, but the only way to find out if he’s better is if we let him play and now is the time to give him a chance!! If he’s not as good or makes the same mistakes Williams makes then we put Williams back in!! But until we find out for sure, I say give him a chance!!

    And as far as the starting line goes, I do agree that Terrence Steele has gotten a lot better, but I still think La’el Collins is the better RT!! So I think the offensive line should have Tyron Smith, Connor McGovern Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin, and La’el Collins as the starters!! Keep Terrence Steele as our swing tackle, and Connor Williams as the backup left guard in case Connor McGovern don’t work out!! But I really believe McGovern will be the best option cause he’s a lot bigger and stronger and he’ll be able to hold up against those big DT a lot better than the smaller Connor Williams!!

    In my opinion, this is the best way to go from now on!! The only way I’d go back to Williams is if McGovern comes in and is worse than Williams has been!!

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