Why the Cowboys should consider Zack Martin at left tackle

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 09: Zack Martin /

It was the loss of Tyron Smith, not Ezekiel Elliott that hurt the Cowboys the most on Sunday, that’s why Zack Martin should be considered at left tackle.

As discussed everywhere in Cowboys Nation, it was left tackle that doomed the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, not running back. The Human Turnstile known as Chaz Green allowed a pedestrian player like Adrian Clayborn to look like a superstar, yielding sack after sack, and thwarting any possibility of having a sustained drive.

Jason Garrett eventually would pull the plug on Green, replacing him late in the game with the oft-inactive Byron Bell. But as far as anyone could tell, Bell didn’t look a whole lot better.

If starting left tackle Tyron Smith is unable to go this week against the NFC leading Philadelphia Eagles, it’s likely Dallas will see the same result if they decide to roll with Bell or Green (BTW: Bell is now above Green on the depth chart). The Cowboys are going to need to get creative and that may involve moving starting guard, Zack Martin, to play bookend.

Zack Martin is far and away the Cowboys best offensive linemen. He’s arguably been the best guard in the NFL the past two seasons and only looks to get better. So why would we consider moving him to a position he’s less dominant?

Because the falloff in production is more significant between Tyron Smith and Bell/Green at left tackle, than it is between Zack Martin and Chaz Green at guard. Additionally, the importance of the left tackle position is considerably more than that of an interior lineman.

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Here’s an exercise I do often:

Say you rate Zack Martin a 99 in productivity at guard and an 85 at left tackle. Now say you have Byron Bell rated as a 65 at LT and Chaz Green as an 80 at guard. You can now determine net gain or loss.

If Martin plays tackle you have a gain of 20 over Bell at LT and a loss of 19 at guard. The move makes sense based on +1 production point.

Factoring in the importance the left tackle plays compared to guard and you have a pretty clear answer.

"*Impact of position — it’s important to always assess the impact a particular position makes on the field in order to add appropriate weight."

But say you only rate Green a 75 at guard and Bell a 70, then the numbers favor keeping Martin at guard. Ultimately it comes down to how the Dallas coaching staff think players rate at their respective positions. It also comes down to their ability to adapt the offense to limited pass protection.

Change of Strategy?

The obvious strategical move is to make the offense more timing-based with a quick release and plenty of rollouts to the right. It goes without saying the TEs should spend more time in pass protection as well. The 10 or 11 times they helped the LT last week clearly weren’t enough.

Next: Assessing Byron Bell's past performances

Should Zack Martin move to LT? Only if the Cowboys stand to get more net production from their offensive line as a result. But if they’re unwilling to adapt their offense to make up for the loss of Tyron Smith, they’ll need to consider it.