Left tackle Chaz Green had one of the worst days in NFL history Sunday against Atlanta.
Atlanta defensive end Adrian Clayborn played the game of his career, recording six tackles, three for loss, six sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery in the Falcons’ 27-7 win over Dallas.
All but one of the sacks and one of the forced fumbles came agianst Green. Clayborn also hit Dak Prescott seven times.
It’ll be awhile before Green plays again.
A poor technique led to his initial struggles; a lack of confidence led to his demise.
Mercifully the Cowboys replaced Green with Byron Bell for the Cowboys’ final 17 offensive plays.
If Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith can’t play Sunday night against Philadelphia, then Bell will start against the Eagles.
A groin injury kept Smith out of Sunday’s game and back and hip injuries have kept him from practicing on Wednesdays for a month.
The extra practice time Green has had on Wednesdays was supposed to make him a better player.
Smith jogged on Monday. He’s not expected to practice Wednesday but Garrett hopes he’ll be ready for Thursday.
Bell has started 72 NFL games, primarily at right tackle. The experience should prevent him from getting flustered, which ultimately led to Green’s downfall.
The Cowboys entered Sunday’s game knowing they would have to help their tackles. Understand, when Smith is in the lineup that’s not part of any gameplan conversation unless it’s about La’El Collins.
But coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan never envisioned Green being abject.
“We tried to help him a few different ways in the game,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We certainly didn’t help him all of the time.”
Why not? The reasons are varied.
Sometimes, the play was designed for Dak Prescott to get rid of the ball quickly, thus giving Green a sense of accomplishment. Other times, the Falcons’ two-deep zone, man-to-man underneath scheme thwarted the Cowboys because it’s designed to take away quick throws.
The counter to Atlanta’s defense requires longer pass routes the Cowboys didn’t have time to block. And as the Falcons became more confident in their pass rush, they played tighter coverage because they knew Prescott wouldn’t have time to throw.
Everything Garrett said makes sense until you realize a dude like Clayborn, who’s average at best, is single-handidly destroying your game plan.
Clayborn, who has never had more than 7.5 sacks in a season, hadn’t had a sack in five games. In 74 games, he’d had one multi-sack game and that occured last October.
He had two sacks and a forced fumble and fumble recovery in the first half. The fumble recovery ended a potential scoring drive for the Cowboys at the end of the first half.
“Typically, it always starts with your set,” Garrett said of Green’s issues. “If you put yourself in a good positon once you engage the rusher, then you have a chance, but once he engaged the rusher whether it was hand placement or balance or dropping his head he had problems.”
Garrett and Linehan contemplated replacing Green at halftime, but the Cowboys trailed only 10-7, and they wanted to give him a chance to re-group and play better.
“He didn’t play well enough,” Garrett said. “He didn’t play to standard and we’ll certainly look at the backup swing tackle position as we go forward.”
Now, it’s about re-building Green’s confidence. There’s certainly no guarantee Smith plays this week.
“When your confidence gets shaken, all of a sudden you play with different technique because you don’t believe you can make the block using the proper technique,” said Garrett, “so you start doing other things and it starts to spiral downward.
“He’ll bounce back. He’s played football in this league long enough to know its competitive.”
The Cowboys could very well need Green to play again this season. If he does, they need him ready to compete at his highest level.
Whatever that is.