8 Cowboys off to disappointing starts eight weeks into the 2023 season

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Terence Steele, RT

Speaking of homegrown talent, Steele may be the biggest homegrown success story Dallas has had in years. The former undrafted free agent from Texas Tech was a longshot to make the roster as a rookie. But a slew of untimely injuries across the line that first year not only resulted in a roster spot, but starting snaps.

Things didn’t go well for Steele as a rookie starter. He played with heavy feet, lacked ideal strength and was slow in his kick-step. But the 6-foot-6, 310-pound tackle stuck to it. He was one of the hardest working players on the roster and endeared himself to teammates and coaches alike.

In 2022, Steele had a breakout season. Playing RT, he combined with Zack Martin at RG to form one of the most unstoppable run blocking duos in the league. Steele graded as a top-10 run blocker and through weight training and refined technique, he improved as pass protector as well.

Unfortunately, late in 2022, Steele fell to a catastrophic knee injury and his season was over. The Cowboys never recovered on their offensive line and limped into and out of the playoffs. Seeing firsthand how important Steele was for the line, Dallas re-signed the 26-year-old RT over the offseason.

Similar to Gallup, bumps were expected in his first year back from injury. But no one expected the bumps to be quite this significant.

In a field of 77 tackles, Steele currently rates in the bottom-5 by PFF grading. While many love to argue PFF grades, it’s hard to argue with this particular assessment. After all, they were the same outlet who trumpeted his dominance as a run-blocker just months ago.

Sadly, this season even his run blocking is below average.

Steele is a major liability on the Dallas offensive line and without any reasonable replacements on the roster, the Cowboys are probably stuck with him down the stretch. He still factors into the long-term plans of the team but his play in 2023 has been extremely disappointing to even modest expectations.