Terence Steele is a problem.
The Cowboys starting right tackle has not only been a weakness of the offensive line this season, but he’s been a liability. On Sunday night in Philadelphia, he made every bit the impact CeeDee Lamb made, but instead of for the positive, it was unequivocally for the negative.
It wasn’t just one great player victimizing the floundering young tackle either. The Eagles were rotating left edge players in. It was as if Oprah were giving away pressures to the studio audience at LDE – “you get a pressure, you get a pressure, you get a pressure!”
By early count, Steele was credited with eight pressures on the day. It was the same number of pressures Steele yielded against San Francisco earlier in the season. For the sake of context, Micah Parsons, arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL, is averaging just over six pressures per game.
In other words, these top teams have been getting an above Parsons-level performance by their rotation of bodies lined up over Steele. That’s like gifting the opponent an All-Pro player each game.
It’s also important to point out pressures don’t count plays in which he’s beaten but the ball has been released before the actual distance has been closed.
Mike McCarthy’s offense relies on quick game and less time in the pocket. Dak Prescott has one shortest average pocket times in the NFL this season which benefits his linemen’s pressure numbers. Steele’s numbers could, and maybe should, look much worse.
Pro Football Focus, who grades overall play and not just official pressures logged, has been fairly consistent in their grading of Steele. He’s currently rated No. 67 in the NFL amongst OTs. His grade BEFORE Sunday’s contest, had his pass blocking score in the bottom 10 of the NFL. It’s safe to assume he’ll grade even further down the rankings after this film has been digested.
Steele’s issues returning from a catastrophic knee injury suffered late last season are somewhat expected. It takes time to rebound and frankly, not all players are up to the challenge.
His Cowboys teammate, Michael Gallup, is in a similar situation with his return from a knee injury. He suffered his knee injury during the 2021 season and he’s yet to return to form.
It’s important to point out, Steele has never been a good pass protector. Even at his best last season, the 26-year-old was generally wading in the waters of average. It was his run blocking that earned him his enormous contract extension over the offseason.
Cowboys RT Terence Steele a smart man. His parents were first people he called when his $86.8M contract extension was finalized. “Then I called my financial advisor right after.” Steele grateful to be in position to take care of his family. pic.twitter.com/cZJohKIntv
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 4, 2023
Like Gallup, Steele was signed fresh off an injury in hopes he’d reclaim form. Like Gallup, those optimistic results have yet to be seen.
Even Steele’s run blocking has been well below league average this season. Yet time is on Steele’s side. The Cowboys are committed, whether they like it or not, so it’s Steele or bust for the foreseeable future in Dallas.
Steele’s tremendous work ethic and determination assure he’ll do everything within his power to get back to form. Until he’s able to physically regain form, it’s up to the Dallas coaching staff to help him out.
Giving him help blocking and frequent chips from TEs and RBs will be key to helping Steele survive this season. He can’t be left alone like he has been the majority of the time, or the results will likely be the same.
Steele has been a massive problem for the Cowboys passing game and his run blocking is doing nothing to make up for it. While his issues are understandable given his recent injury, they cannot be ignored.
It’s imperative the Cowboys find ways to help out their young tackle because he’s drowning and pulling the entire Cowboys offense down with him.
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