Stephen Jones has discussed it. Jerry Jones has broached it. Mike McCarthy has answered to it. Even Will McClay has mentioned it: The Dallas Cowboys would like “the best five” to start on the offensive line.
In the same vein (and often in the same sentence) they’ve stated Tyler Smith is their starting LT heading into 2023. If the top-5 is Tyler Smith, Zack Martin, Tyler Biadasz, Tyler Smith and Terence Steele, and Tyler Smith is the only one of the group who’s able to move to guard, clearly something has to give, right?
But maybe we’re looking at this all wrong. Maybe Tyron Smith is no longer considered a top-5 guy for the Dallas Cowboys.
To suggest Tyron is somehow outside the top-5 boarders on the lines of sacrilege. Smith has been one of the best LTs on the planet over his career. He’s a Hall of Fame lock and one of the best Dallas Cowboys of all time.
His only issue is health. Everyone knows that. How many times have you heard, “when healthy, Tyron Smith is elite.” But what if those health issues have taken their toll and Tyron isn’t the same elite player he used to be?
Tyron Smith is going to start training camp as a starter. The Dallas Cowboys owe him that much.
Recent evidence indicates he’s nowhere near the same player he once was. Late in 2021 he was abused by San Francisco in the playoffs. Training camp in 2022 he was routinely beat by rotational DEs while playing LT.
When Tyron returned from injury late in 2022, he volunteered to play RT because he saw Tyler Smith had LT locked down. When he played RT in place of Terence Steele, he struggled in both phases of the game.
The reality is, Tyron Smith hasn’t looked good since midseason 2021.
This past offseason, Tyron willingly took a pay-cut on an incentive laden deal to stay with the Dallas Cowboys. He was also told it would be at RT and not LT. If he thought he was the best LT on the team he wouldn’t have done either.
The Cowboys basically named Tyron the starting RT and said Steele would work behind him as a swing tackle and/or compete at LG. Then Will McClay said this of the offensive line:
"“That’s a puzzle that will be continued to be figured out,” McClay said of the offensive line. “We have talented people there and what we want to try to do is get our best five and that’s what training camp is for, that’s what OTAs are for and all those things.”"
He went on to indicate the best-5 in our minds today may not be the best-5 when all is said and done in training camp.
"“It’s easy to say, ‘it should be this’ but you want to go through, we have a new offensive line coach, we’re doing things new offensively so it’s an opportunity to start fresh and put the best five on the field.”"
Tyron Smith is going to start training camp as a starter. The Dallas Cowboys owe him that much. He wouldn’t have accepted the terms of his new deal if he wasn’t afforded that opportunity.
But there’s a good chance Steele is a better RT and Tyler is a better LT than him already. There’s also the chance Chuma Odoga is good at LG since the entire front office has been singing his praises since March.
Even if Tyler is better than Odoga at LG, the gap between the two could be less than the gap between Steele and Tyron or Tyler and Tyron, meaning the best-5 do not include the future Hall of Famer.
The “Best-5 Truthers” amongst us in Cowboys Nation have been clamoring for Tyler to play LG almost relentlessly. This operates under the assumption Tyron is still the same player he was 2 years ago and not the guy he’s been. It also glosses over the fact Dallas REALLY wants Tyler to play LT and bumping him inside might stunt his development.
This will be interested to monitor once training camp kicks off in July