When you are facing off against one of the best defenses in football on a yearly basis and have had protection issues in the past, the last thing you want to hear is that your new right tackle has gone down injured.
Tyron Smith was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys this year and the 20-year-old former USC talent was expected to start at right tackle in the team's season opener against the Jets on Monday night.
Smith hyper-extended his knee however, and is unlikely to feature Monday night.
Entering the season with a quarterback coming off a serious shoulder injury that landed him on IR last year is always a worry. Entering the season with protection problems in front of that quarterback is a nightmare.
The Cowboys luckily only have to replace the team's right tackle rather than losing their always-important blindside protector in Doug Free. However, the prospect of starting Jermey Parnell at right tackle for his first NFL game is a definite problem.
However it may not be as severe as you would think.
The New York Jets are a great run-stuffing defense, and they excel with a variety of exotic blitzes. However, reading blitzes generally falls on the quarterback to read the defense and get rid of the football rather than for the protection to hold up.
When starting an unproven player on the offensive line it, is more about holding his own in individual matchups. Luckily for the Cowboys, the Jets don't have any great pass rushers.
The Jets rely on their coverage and blitzes to get their sacks. Their most dangerous pass rusher in the front seven is Calvin Pace, but Pace isn't an elite blitzer. He and Bryan Thomas wouldn't intimidate most offenses in the league without a blitz package.
With Parnell at right tackle, he will likely face off against Thomas more often than Pace. Thomas is definitely the lesser of the two players, and the fact that he will be playing in Tony Romo's eyeline should allow him to be effective.
He will obviously have his struggles, but the Cowboys would have been expecting that from the position even if Tyron Smith was healthy.
The Dallas Cowboys may miss Tyron Smith on Monday night; however, his loss will not be the reason that they lose the football game should they lose it.