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Mailbag: Should've Kept Steele At Right Tackle? 


Do you guys foresee Mike McCarthy maybe being more conservative and taking the field goal when applicable? The aggressiveness is refreshing to see after Jason Garrett always taking heat for being conservative in past years, but it just seems that it's hurting much more than helping when it comes to fourth down. – TONY WILSON / STAFFORD, TX

Nick: Like with anything in life, it comes down to balance. And that's the difference of a good coach and one that doesn't know how to manage the game properly. It all comes down to a feel, knowing your own team, the other team and the situation all rolled into one. I don't think McCarthy is going to stop being aggressive, but I think Sunday's game might give him a better understanding on playing the percentages. Maybe kicking field goals and getting points on the board will be a better strategy then trusting the O-line to get a yard or trusting the offense to get two yards on a pass over the middle. It's just a balancing act. Personally, I would've gone for the first down the first time and kicked the ball the second time. Not coming away with two empty trips. It's easy to say that now when you look at the results.

Rob: McCarthy has been aggressive with these types of game management decisions throughout his career, partly because he's coached excellent quarterbacks. As good as the offense has been for the vast majority of the season, no, I don't see him suddenly taking a conservative approach. I didn't have a problem with them going for it on the first fourth down. On the second one, yeah, maybe you settle for three points. But if Dak makes a better throw to Cedrick Wilson (a play he can make in his sleep), it's a first down. So a little bit of this is hindsight. The offense just wasn't in sync at all Sunday. But I won't argue with you that they haven't had a ton of success on fourth down this year.

What do you think about the decision to move Terence Steele to left tackle against the Broncos? I feel that they would've been better off keeping him at right tackle where he's thrived this season and should have moved La'el Collins to left. By moving Steele, they actually changed two positions instead of just replacing Tyron Smith on the left side. ADAM GORDON / MORGANVILLE, NJ

Nick: If I had answered this after the game, I would've agreed with your assessment 100 percent. In fact, I'm not sure I still don't agree that Steele should've been played on the right side and La'el moves to the left. However, there is another aspect of this that I'm not sure we've all considered – and maybe it's something the coaches have discussed behind closed doors. But Tyron Smith is supposed to come back sooner than later – at least we all hope. So if they had moved La'el to left and kept Steele at the right side, what happens in a week or two when Tyron comes back? Now Steele has played 7-8 games on the right side and La'el is in a weird spot where the Cowboys now have to decide to move in back to the right side or roll with Steele? I think they made the decision that when they have everyone healthy, Collins will be the right tackle. And if that's the case, then move him to his spot now and consider Steele to be backing up Tyron until he comes back. If that was the rationale, then I support that.

Rob: Steele himself acknowledged that it was a tough transition. I said last week that it's fair to argue for Steele staying at right tackle, where he's found a comfort level, and that maybe La'el Collins could handle the transition better because he's a more experienced player, even though he hasn't played left tackle in years. (Ty Nsekhe is an option there, too.) The fact that McCarthy went with Steele shows it wasn't an easy decision because generally he prefers to make one position change on the line instead of two. They made, in their mind, the most practical decision because Steele had taken a bunch of reps there in preseason. Obviously it didn't work out as well as they hoped.

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