The Dallas Cowboys had more offensive line problems than they would have liked to have dealt with in 2020. Just one week into the 2021 season, they are having issues again. Starting Right Guard Zack Martin missed the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he landed on the Reserve/COVID list, but was activated on Monday. Also, starting Right Tackle La'el Collins was suspended five games last Friday due to violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Collins is currently appealing the decision.
That leaves a hole at the right tackle spot, and with one of the league's best pass rushers on the menu for Sunday, Joey Bosa, it's not an ideal situation for the Cowboys. Martin started a few games at right tackle last season and looked like the All-Pro he normally is at guard. With Connor McGovern performing well at right guard in Week 1 many thought the Cowboys would slide Martin over to tackle again to have the best five linemen on the field. However, team owner Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday that Terence Steele will get the start at right tackle against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 2.
“The plan is to go with Steele, and he'll do a good job,” Jones said. “He's a young guy that we're proud of. He really had a great rookie year last year, relatively speaking, and he'll do a good job out there. We'll give him lots of help.”
The Cowboys will certainly need to assist Steele in his assignment. Ezekiel Elliott, who was masterful in pass blocking against the Buccaneers, will once again have a huge role by helping Steele keep Dak Prescott upright. Also, chipping Bosa with tight ends can work wonders for the swing tackle. Game plan-wise, the Cowboys will need to get the ball out of Prescott's hands quickly to reduce the amount of time Steele has to deal with such a tough task.
Steele was an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech last season. In the absence of Collins who missed the entire season after hip surgery, Steele started 14 games for the Cowboys, and it wasn't always pretty. Steele did do a lot of work in the offseason with offensive line guru Duke Manyweather to improve on his game and as well as adding muscle to his frame. He deserves praise for his efforts, but it's unlikely that Steele has done enough to be serviceable against a beast like Bosa for four quarters.
With Martin looking as good as he did at right tackle last season why wouldn't the Cowboys slide him over to that spot again after getting the news on Collins? Jones made it pretty clear why that move won't be made.
“Our offense is just best served with Martin at right guard,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan. “We have a good alternative and (Martin) will be very helpful (to Steele).”
If Steele struggles against Bosa the Cowboys can't afford to hesitate to make the switch to Martin at right tackle and put McGovern back at right guard. It's early in the season but a potential 0-2 start, even in a division like the NFC East, isn't what the Cowboys want as they look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2018.