For the entire decade, there’s been no question who is the best left tackle in the NFL. Just give the All-Pro award to Seattle’s Walter Jones and move on.
Since 2001, Jones has headed to Hawaii at the end of the season as the NFC’s Pro Bowl left tackle. He’s been an All-Pro for six of the past seven years. If you’re looking for the definition of a dominating left tackle, the standard for years has been Jones.
But if Jones doesn’t make it back to Hawaii this year, he can blame Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware for ruining his reputation. With a national TV audience on Thanksgiving Day, Ware beat Jones for a pair of sacks and an additional quarterback hurry. In addition to Ware’s two sacks against Jones, he also recorded a tackle for a loss on a running play when Jones struggled to get any push on Ware. Greg Ellis got a quarterback hurry late in the game against Jones after Ware left the game with an injury. And Chris Canty beat Jones on a running play to make a tackle.
On the first sack, Jones was slow getting off the snap, which meant that Ware already had the corner on Jones by the time the tackle got his hands on him. With Matt Hasselback taking a seven-step drop, Ware had him on a tee. On the second sack, Jones got fooled, as he prepared for Ware to take an inside move, but Ware double-crossed him and looped to the outside. Jones took a rare mistep and it was all over. For a tackle who’s expected to be perfect, it was a shockingly bad game. And since tackles are rarely noticed, one game like that can make an oversized impact.