As Joey Bosa heads to town, the Dallas Cowboys will be without starting right tackle La’el Collins. The last time the Cowboys played with Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Collins all in the lineup was Week 16 of the 2019 season. As fans of “America’s Team” clamored for Martin to play right tackle, the coaching staff decided to go a different direction. Second-year undrafted free agent Terence Steele was announced the starter.
Can the Dallas Cowboys stop Joey Bosa?
The Cowboys couldn’t stop Bosa with Collins. Not consistently, at least. Bosa is one of the top three edge/pass rushers in the NFL when healthy. He’s a technical wizard against the pass and a brick wall against the run.
However, there are ways to mitigate his overall effectiveness through both manpower and scheme.
Firstly, Ezekiel Elliott proved crucial in pass protection last week, and he’ll certainly step up to help the right side of the offensive line when asked in Week 2. But I also expect the Cowboys to use Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz as in-line tight ends on the right side of the line often as well.
Still, that’s just the personnel side of things. Schematically, there is far more the Cowboys can do to thwart Bosa’s efforts.
Making things harder on Bosa
Dak Prescott’s autonomy at the line is the Cowboys’ greatest weapon against Bosa and the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Cowboys used passes like this often during the Buccaneers game. They knew running the ball traditionally was a losing effort against the best run defense in the NFL in 2020.
The Cowboys pull both guards, which gives the run action. That’s because this at least appears to be a run play. Left tackle Tyron Smith gets downfield, signifying the run play. Obviously, Prescott and the offense have the option to throw the swing.
Prescott peeks at Devin White, and when he doesn’t follow Pollard’s motion, Prescott knows he has a 3-2 advantage on that side, with Antoine Winfield Jr. at depth. If Gallup and Cooper pick up their blocks, it’s positive yards.
That’s one way to mitigate Bosa’s impact.
There is no reason to make things more difficult than they have to be. This is a run play. But with the cornerback playing off, Prescott has as free of a completion as you’ll find.
Oh, and CeeDee Lamb is the receiver, so Prescott trusts him to make a play with the ball in his hands. This is an “alert” call. That simply means it is a run play, but Prescott and the receiver play a two-man game. These could be slants or quick stop routes as well.
Joey Bosa played 37 of his 45 snaps on the offense’s right side. These quicker concepts are more difficult to that side for a right-handed QB because it takes more time to deliver. It’s certainly not impossible, though. So, how do they attack that side?
I’m glad you asked.
Give Bosa something to think about. If he’s able to pin his ears back, it’s going to be a long night, even if Elliott or the tight ends are trying to help Steele. Tight end screens, bubble screens, and tunnel screens are good ways to force the defensive line to move horizontally.
Getting to know Terence Steele
Steele is a second-year right tackle from Texas Tech. He went undrafted in 2020, but it was quickly obvious that this coaching staff coveted him in particular out of the group.
Steele was an athletic, developmental tackle prospect that never should have been forced into action as a rookie. Unfortunately, the Dallas Cowboys suffered many injuries on the offensive line that forced him on the field for a whopping 970 offensive snaps.
Naturally, he struggled. But we did see a lot of growth from the long-armed, athletic tackle. He won’t be able to stop Bosa, but he could survive and display some growth from his first NFL offseason.
Nevertheless, if the preseason was any indication, it could be a long night for Steele.