Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys have a hole to fill at left tackle

Former Cowboys backup tackle Chaz Green, right, didn’t provide much resistance a year ago in a 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons against defensive end Adrian Clayborn tries to wrap up quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott was sacked eight times, including six by Clayborn.
Former Cowboys backup tackle Chaz Green, right, didn’t provide much resistance a year ago in a 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons against defensive end Adrian Clayborn tries to wrap up quarterback Dak Prescott. Prescott was sacked eight times, including six by Clayborn. rmallison@star-telegram.com

Dak Prescott didn’t look like a quarterback a day removed from being sacked eight times on Monday.

Instead, Prescott could only smile and enjoy serving an early Thanksgiving meal to folks at The Salvation Army.

But, make no mistake, the Dallas Cowboys don’t want Prescott to endure the sort of pounding he took Sunday ever again. Everyone within the organization understands the glaring problem the team has following a 27-7 whipping by the Atlanta Falcons.

The Cowboys simply don’t have a reliable replacement for All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith, whose absence showed why he’s worth every penny of the $97.6 million contract he’s on.

“We’ve watched the tape. We’ll continue to watch it and discuss it and see who gives us the best chance at that backup, swing tackle spot,” coach Jason Garrett said at his day-after news conference.

The tape surely isn’t kind to Chaz Green, who started in place of the injured Smith (groin). Green gave up three sacks in the first half to Atlanta defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

The Cowboys stuck with Green to start the second half, too. But he gave up another sack to Clayborn that ruined a solid drive for the Cowboys where they had a first-and-10 at the Atlanta 12 and settled for a field goal attempt that clanked off the right upright.

The Dallas Cowboys lose to the Atlanta Falcons without Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott is sacked time after time.

Green acknowledged his forgettable outing afterward, blaming himself for poor technique and play. Veteran Byron Bell replaced him, but Bell was beat for two sacks in his limited time (including one by Clayborn who set a Falcons record with six in a game).

Garrett said the coaches tried to devise a game plan to absorb Smith’s loss as best as possible. It just simply didn’t work out as planned.

“Part of the game plan this week was to help our tackles in this game — particularly left tackle, getting his first start over there — whether it was with the formation we use or with the back,” Garrett said. “We didn’t do it 100 percent of the time. The times we didn’t do it, it hurt us. It usually isn’t a big concern for us, week in and week out, because of Tyron’s play over there throughout his career.”

That begs the question as to if Smith could be ready to go as early as Sunday?

“We’ll see,” Garrett said. “He worked out this morning. We’ll take his situation day-by-day. Probably don’t anticipate him practicing on Wednesday, but hopefully as the week goes on, he gets healthier and healthier and gets on the practice field.”

But there’s no guarantee Smith will be available for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys are open to considering all options at left tackle if Smith can’t play.

Outside of Green and Bell, the Cowboys could look to right guard Zack Martin or right tackle La’el Collins, each of whom were standout left tackles in college.

Martin and Collins haven’t taken many, if any, reps at left tackle recently, but Garrett didn’t dismiss the notion.

“You always consider every option,” Garrett said. “You want to have your best five guys out there. You want to put them in the most advantageous spots to move the football and in this particular case protect the quarterback. We will take Tyron’s situation day to day. Right now we have no plans to do that [moving Martin or Collins to left tackle].”

What is known is that Green likely won’t be an option for the foreseeable future. The Cowboys won’t throw him in the fire again against the Eagles.

The Cowboys will let Green take a step back and begin the process of rebuilding his confidence and refining his technique.

Green owned up to his dismal outing as best as possible, saying he should shoulder the blame for the loss. His teammates and coaches wouldn’t agree with that, and they still see potential in the 2015 third-round pick out of Florida.

Green has battled injuries much of his career, but filled in well for Smith two times early on last season. He also began this season as the starting left guard before being passed over by Jonathan Cooper.

“I’ve just got to keep working him every day and keep going back to fundamentals, and keep encouraging him and coaching him positive,” offensive line coach Frank Pollack said after the game. “We’ve got to keep him going. He’s a young kid, still has a lot of talent and a lot of potential and a lot of ability, got to keep him going. Don’t want to lose him.”

Garrett echoed that message.

The Atlanta Falcons defense was too much for the Dallas Cowboys offense, which was missing running back Ezekiel Elliott for the first time this season. Another key absence was left tackle Tyron Smith, who was out with an injury.

“There were some good things in the game, we can point to some plays where he did protect well, he did run block well. We just have to build on those,” Garrett said. “And then we have to look objectively, when it didn’t go the right way, what happened? What do we need to work on technically, emotionally, as you work your way through this? He’ll bounce back. He’s played football in this league long enough to know it’s competitive. He’s done some good things throughout his career here.

“He didn’t do a good enough job yesterday, but we’ll learn from that experience and go forward.”

Drew Davison: 817-390-7760, @drewdavison

Cowboys vs. Eagles

7:30 p.m. Sunday, KXAS/5

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