Cowboys Offensive Tackle Josh Ball was hardly the only poor performer in last night's preseason loss to the Denver Broncos. He just might have been the worst, though, and now Dallas has to figure out what to do about the swing tackle job going forward.
Ball was generally hapless against Denver's pass rushers and looked completely unsuited for playing left tackle. As we've discussed many times, this is a paramount issue for the Cowboys given Tyron Smith's proven inability to stay healthy for a full season.
Josh Ball is a really, really bad plan at swing tackle.
Somehow he is the only option that the Cowboys have at the moment.
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) August 14, 2022
Cooper Rush needs some protection here and Josh Ball, at LT isn't helping much. Not sure after what we've seen so far that the Cowboys have a swing tackle.
— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) August 14, 2022
The Cowboys don't have a third tackle. Josh Ball has been bad tonight
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) August 14, 2022
Even going into camp, Ball was described as a better option for the right side than the left. The hope was that rookie Matt Waletzko would be able to quickly take on the responsibility but he's now missing time with a shoulder injury that is expected to require surgery.
With Waletzko potentially not able to play at all and unable to prove his value now, Dallas had to hope that Ball could step up. But he's reportedly struggled in camp and that was validated by what we saw last night.
Isaac Alarcón eventually took over in the second half and looked more competent at left tackle. The Cowboys had been trying to make Isaac a guard but the third-year prospect's original position was tackle.
Still, Alarcón entered the game late and wasn't facing premier defensive talent. How he'd hold up in a regular-season game stepping in for Tyron Smith is a much different scenario and one that Dallas may not be able to feel confident about by Week One.
Even the notion of using 1st-round pick Tyler Smith as an emergency left tackle took a hit last night. While Smith put on a show at times with his powerful blocking at guard, he also had some issues with penalties that would only be exacerbated playing tackle. That aside, you'd also rather let the rookie focus on one job this year.
Clearly, the answer appears to be looking for outside help. With limited roster cuts beginning this Tuesday, the Cowboys will no doubt be scanning the waiver wire for new candidates to compete for the single tackle role. There are also still some veteran free agents out there that might provide some help.
Management's line recently has been that they wanted to see what their young guys could do before looking to free agency. Well, they've now had weeks of camp and a preseason game to tell them that Josh Ball isn't the answer at swing tackle.
Your move, Cowboys front office.