If there's one thing that Dallas Cowboys fans can universally agree on, it's that the defense has missed nose tackle Johnathan Hankins. Hankins has missed the last two games with an ankle sprain and his status for Saturday's Week 17 game against the Detroit Lions is in question.
The Cowboys run defense has struggled in Hankins' absence. While the unit performed better against the Dolphins on Christmas Eve, Hankins' replacements -- namely rookie Mazi Smith and veteran Carl Davis -- haven't performed anywhere close to good enough.
It's not like Jerry Jones to make a mid-season splash, but fans hoped Jones would table his philosophy to beef up the defensive line. While Hankins is expected back before the playoffs, it doesn't take a seasoned general manager to realize Dallas would benefit from adding another DT to the rotation.
Enter Sebastian Joseph-Day, whom the free-falling Chargers shockingly waived last week. You couldn't script better luck for the Cowboys, but the Jonses sat on their hands and allowed the 49ers to swoop in and sign the coveted DT.
Cowboys' Jerry Jones blew it allowing 49ers to sign Sebastian Joseph-Day
Again, this is what separates the 49ers from the Cowboys.
The 49ers have been without starting DT Arik Armstead for three games and backup Kalia Davis landed on injured reserve last week. Ever aware that winning in the trenches is paramount to playoff success, San Francisco pushed the envelope to improve its already-loaded roster with two games left before the playoffs.
While the Cowboys only have one injury to navigate on the defensive line, whereas the 49ers are down multiple DTs, Hankins is the team's best run defender. Even if Hankins wasn't injured, the play of Mazi Smith and Carl Davis should've given the front office enough incentive to sign Joseph-Day.
In Week 16, Davis finished with a 38.2 run-defense grade, per Pro Football Focus. He only played eight snaps, but his struggles were glaring. Similarly, Smith received a 48.3 run-defense grade against the Dolphins on 26 snaps, via PFF.
That's not good enough and Joseph-Day was there for the taking. He surprisingly cleared waivers, which freed him up to negotiate with any team.
It makes zero sense that the Cowboys were in on Shaquille Leonard and seemingly didn't give a thought to signing Joseph-Day. It leads us to speculate that Jones was in it for the publicity, as Dallas battled the Eagles to land Leonard's signature. Make no mistake: DT is just as big of a need as linebacker.
Joseph-Day isn't a world-beater against the run, but he's started from the moment he stepped foot in the NFL as a sixth-round pick in 2019.
Whatever dissuaded Jones from signing Joseph-Day, the owner absolutely blew it by allowing the hated 49ers to sign the former Charger.