Cowboys Urged to Bench 2-Time All-Pro for 2023 Season: ‘Rolling the Dice’

Mike McCarthy

Getty Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy gives instruction during practice.

The Dallas Cowboys have a talented roster heading into the 2023 season, but that only makes upcoming roster decisions more difficult.

Dallas has built an offensive identity on its depth at key positions, especially the offensive line. When the offensive talent at wide receiver was lacking over the past two years, relying on the strength of the offensive line to move the ball was critical.

Which makes the situation at tackle so important. The Cowboys have relied on Tyron Smith for the last decade, and he has been a perennial Pro Bowler accordingly. However, the rise of Tyler Smith and Terence Steele has signaled a changing of the guard.

Blogging the Boys analyst Dan Rogers believes it is time for that to officially happen. In a recent article, Rogers makes the case for Tyron Smith to no longer be a starter but instead the backup swing tackle.

“The Cowboys would be wise to stick with the youngsters on the edge as they already have showcased their ability to play well and they’re only getting better,” Rogers wrote. “These two are the tackles of the future, so why not bypass all this OL shuffling and let them build on what they’re good at? Additionally, Tyron’s fragility has limited his overall contribution and it seems more sensible to preserve his health and just keep him in their back pocket.”

Tyler Smith and Terence Steele have done nothing but succeed in their starting opportunities, but its hard to imagine Tyron Smith healthy and on the sidelines.

Mike McCarthy Has Difficult Choice

Now that Kellen Moore has departed for the Los Angeles Chargers, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is taking on the full responsibilities of running the offense. The Smiths and Steele will be one of the first situations to address.

Perhaps he should consider the stats Rogers uses in his story, specifically the splits between the three. The numbers make it clear where the argument for benching Tyron Smith is coming from.

As a duo, Tyler Smith and Steele starting together produced more rushing yards per game (148 rushing yards per game) and gave up fewer sacks per game (1.0) than they did as the counterparts to Tyron Smith starting.

It may not seem like the presence of one tackle could affect the player on the opposite side, but it is representative of the player handling his responsibilities and allowing the entire rest of the offensive line more leeway. Currently, Steele and Tyler Smith are the ones contributing the most in that way.

Cowboys Announce Plan for Swing Tackle

While there is a case for Tyron Smith to be benched, Dallas seems dead-set on having Steele be the swing tackle instead. In a recent quote from the NFL Owner Meetings, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones talked about the plan.

“To me, what Steele does (well) is be a part of a three-man position look when you look at the tackles,” Jones explained per the Star-Telegram. “That is the best that we’ve ever been fixed. We have Tyron when he’s available and we have Steele there that’s going to get his snaps. And may get a lot of snaps. And then you have your young (player) Tyler who is just outstanding and has nothing but upside ahead of him.”

Part of the reason Tyron Smith might be starting is his salary. Spotrac shows that Dallas has restructured his deal, but he will still make over $8 million in 2023 and that’s hard to spend on a non-starter.

Plus, Tyler Smith’s impressive rookie season doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a guarantee for success in year two. Dallas will have to be looking alive and ready to adapt depending on his play.

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