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3 Reasons Why Jaylon Smith Will be Even Better in 2018

Brian Martin

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3 Reasons Why Jaylon Smith Will be Even Better in 2018

The Dallas Cowboys took a chance in the 2016 NFL Draft when they decided to select Jaylon Smith, a linebacker out of Notre Dame, with their second-round draft pick. Smith was undoubtedly one of the most talented players in the 2016 draft class, but there were concerns he may not be able to play a single down in the NFL.

A devastating knee injury nearly ended Jaylon Smith's NFL career before it even began. Fortunately though, due to his diligent approach to rehab and mental fortitude, he attacked his rehabilitation head on and it's looking as if he could make a full recovery.

"I'm going to be better than Notre Dame 100 percent," he said recently at the Cowboys' seventh annual Reliant Home Run Derby. "People thought I'd never play the game again, and I've been able to accomplish that. Each and every day I've gotten better. Last year each game I improved. It just feels great to continue to be able to improve my health."

I don't know about you, but if Jaylon Smith is anywhere close to the player he was at Notre Dame, he's going to be even better in 2018. But, I think he's going to be even better and I'll tell you why.

Confidence and Experience

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

For Jaylon Smith, being able to play an entire 16 game season after suffering what many thought to be a career ending injury probably did wonders for his psyche. That alone should make him a better football player in 2018 because it builds up his confidence.

A confident player is able to just go out and do his job and not have to worry about anything else. I can almost guarantee he was a little bit worried about how his knee would hold up, at the very least it was something that was stuck in the back of his mind. Now all he has to worry about is his preparation. Thankfully, that's where a year of experience comes in handy.

While redshirting his rookie season, he was able to pick the brain of Sean Lee. Learning how to prepare from one the best was probably invaluable for his development. But, there's nothing like getting out there and actually getting game experience. He now understands the speed of the game and can better prepare himself both physically and mentally to hold up for an entire season. All in all, the confidence and experience he gained so far should make him much better player this season.

More Playing Time

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

With Anthony Hitchens sidelined due to injury at the start of the 2017 season, the Dallas Cowboys had no choice but to throw Jaylon Smith into the fire as a starter. He clearly had quite a bit of rust to knockoff, but everyone could see flashes of the player that was once considered a surefire top five draft pick in 2016 NFL Draft.

Once Hitchens returned from his injury, the Cowboys thought it best for both he and Smith to split time. Even as a rotational player, Smith managed to rack up 99 total tackles (according to coaches film), finishing second in tackles only behind Sean Lee.

More playing time doesn't always equate to better performance, but I wouldn't be surprised if Jaylon Smith leads the team in tackles in 2018. It's unclear exactly what position he will play this year, but no matter what his role has, we should expect to see much more of his signature swipe celebration.

No More Limitations

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

Jaylon Smith played all 16 games in 2017 with an AFO brace that help support his drop foot condition caused by nerve damage. Fortunately, it's looking as if that will no longer be required, which means he shouldn't have any limitations moving forward. This alone should make him a much better player.

Watching Smith play last year you may have noticed that he was much better when he was moving forward then he was moving side to side. With the AFO brace it limited his movement and flexibility side to side, but since that is no longer required, he should be a much better sideline to sideline linebacker in 2018.

Some of Jaylon Smith's best attributes as a linebacker while at Notre Dame was his ability to play all over the field as a traditional LB and even as a pass rusher. Regaining his flexibility and movement will help him return to his collegiate form, and quite possibly exceed it. I'd expect the Dallas Cowboys to use him in a variety roles on defense, much like they did at Notre Dame.

Do you think Jaylon Smith will be better in 2018?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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6 Comments
  • Charles Vine

    More Cowboy Delusional Propaganda! It never ends.

    • Zac H

      What are you doing here? Clearly, you are interested in this amazing comeback story; Or, perhaps you are nervous (as a redskins fan) that the Cowboys have a player that is capable of making it even more difficult for the Redskins to finally get a win against Dallas (2 years in a row we have swept you). Take your pathetic comment and go home.

  • Ismael Ramirez

    God bless this young man hope he gets his opportunity to make some plays out there for us cowboy fans super excited to see him play better than last year

  • oneputter

    we all certainly hope that he can be what he once was and more so better than he was.

    i’m rooting for the guy, he was a force at ND.

  • Chuck Wright

    Another good read. . ..

  • Tommy Davis

    Excellent article Brian, I agree 100%, I’m not surprised by the comments of the Cowboys haters.

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Cowboys en Español: Sí, Amari Cooper Lo Valió

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys' Revenge Against Atlanta Hinges on These 3 Key Matchups 1

Cuando los Dallas Cowboys sorprendieron a la NFL mandando una selección de primera ronda por el receptor Amari Cooper de los Oakland Raiders, la respuesta fue muy dividida. Al final de cuentas, Cooper estaba pasando por una temporada bastante mala junto a su equipo. Sus números iban en decline y muchos habían perdido la fe en la ex-estrella de la universidad de Alabama y cuarta selección global en el NFL Draft del 2015.

Pero sorpresa, sorpresa. Desde que se unió a las filas de los Dallas Cowboys, Amari Cooper ha demostrado que la decisión que tomaron los Jones fue una muy buena.

En esta liga, es muy complicado justificar el deshacerse de un pick de primera ronda.

Estamos hablando de la oportunidad de tomar a un novato joven con muchísimo potencial para convertirse en un jugador calibre All-Pro en algún punto de su carrera. No es fácil renunciar a una posibilidad así en esta liga. Sin embargo, Amari Cooper no ha hecho más que justificar el trade por parte de los Cowboys. Si continúa así, al final de la temporada podríamos estar hablando de que Dallas pagó de menos por él.

Es importante recalcar que Amari Cooper tiene 24 años de edad. Para el NFL Draft del 2019, los mejores prospectos en esta posición tienen a lo mucho cuatro años menos. A.J. Brown de Ole Miss tendrá 21 años cuando pise el emparrillado por primera vez en la NFL.

Y no, ninguno de estos receptores está cerca del nivel de talento con el que cuenta Cooper.

#DALvsPHI: Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott Key to Clipping the Eagles Wings?

¿Qué tan grande ha sido el impacto de Amari Cooper?

Desde la semana 9, cuando los Cowboys consiguieron a Cooper, este ha tenido 30 recepciones. 23 de las cuales han resultado en un primer down o en un touchdown. Es el receptor con más atrapadas en tercera oportunidad. Podríamos hablar de las grandes estadísticas que el wide receiver ha conseguido vistiendo la estrella individualmente. Pero realmente, ha tenido un impacto en la ofensiva entera.

Desde su llegada, los Cowboys son el tercer mejor equipo en porcentaje de pases completos, el segundo en yardas después de la recepción y el tercero a la hora de convertir terceras oportunidades y mover las cadenas.

Simple y sencillamente, ha tenido un impacto que ningún otro novato del 2019 hubiera tenido en este equipo. Si, los Cowboys tendrán que pagarle una extensión cara en el futuro, pero cuando este sea el caso, lo habrá valido.

Amari Cooper es el ejemplo perfecto de porque la NFL es un deporte de equipo. Con los Raiders, todos lo tachaban como un jugador que ya no era bueno e iba para abajo. Pero bajo los Dallas Cowboys, se ve como un jugador que promete mucho para esta joven franquicia que necesitaba un verdadero #1 en la posición de wide receiver.

La ofensiva de los Cowboys tiene mucho talento. Es cuestión de mejorar en zona roja para que Dallas sea una amenaza bastante considerable en los playoffs de la NFL.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Sí, Amari Cooper Lo Valió" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Why is Jerry Jones “keeping a very close eye” on the Kareem Hunt Case?

Brian Martin

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Why is Jerry Jones "keeping a very close eye" on the Kareem Hunt Case?
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

As owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones has been pretty open-minded when it comes to giving talented players second and even third chances. So, it should come to no surprise he is "keeping a very close eye" on the NFL's newest troubled player, Kareem Hunt, according to a statement he made recently on 105.3 The Fan.

"Yes, keeping a very close eye, and have a very keen interest in how this plays out. It's a challenging area about what we're about…everyone has zero tolerance for domestic abuse," said Jones.

Leave it to Jerry Jones to say something so vague that can be misconstrued on several different levels. There is really no way of knowing exactly why he is so interested in the Kareem Hunt case, which is why I thought I would attempt to crawl inside his head to decipher what he could possibly be thinking.

The Kareem Hunt case is interesting though on so many different levels. There is actual video evidence of the altercation thanks to TMZ, unlike the hearsay with Ezekiel Elliott that ended up looking more and more like a witch hunt by the NFL and Roger Goodell. You can bet that could be one of the reasons why Jerry Jones' interest has been piqued, but I can guarantee he's not the only one watching closely to see how this plays out.

Before I get too off-topic, let me get back to the elephant in the room. Why is Jerry Jones "keeping a very close eye" on the Kareem Hunt case? Let's jump into his thought process to determine what he could possibly be thinking…

Considering an Ezekiel Elliott/Kareem Hunt Tandem?

Ezekiel Elliott, Kareem Hunt

Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott and FA Kareem Hunt

Since Jerry Jones isn't shy about adding "troubled" players to the Dallas Cowboys roster, there have already been quite a few people who believe Kareem Hunt will eventually end up with the organization. I highly doubt it happens, but a Ezekiel Elliott/Hunt tandem in the Cowboys backfield would be something dreams are made of, not to mention really fun to watch.

No offense to Rod Smith or any other running back on the Cowboys roster, but they don't really have someone who is capable enough in the eyes of the coaching staff to cut into Zeke's heavy workload. Pairing Hunt with Zeke would give Dallas a two headed monster and give them the best RB duo in the league. That would fit right into their run first mentality.

Hunt of course is looking at least a six-game suspension. Jerry Jones would have to be comfortable with the backlash he would receive by bringing him aboard, but we've seen him make such moves in the past. I definitely believe it's something that has crossed his mind. As a football movement makes sense, but it without a doubt hurts the Cowboys brand and their public image.

Kareem Hunt an Ezekiel Elliott Replacement?

Kareem Hunt

FA Kareem Hunt

We are getting to the point in Ezekiel Elliott's career the Dallas Cowboys have to start considering whether or not they want to sign him to a long-term extension. It could be as early as this upcoming offseason, or they could wait until after 2019. Adding a young, talented, and cost-effective RB like Kareem Hunt would be a shrewd/savvy move on the Cowboys part.

Like I mentioned earlier, Hunt is looking at least a six-game suspension and could quite possibly end up being for an entire season. That means he's not going to cost a lot when/if he's able to return to the NFL and is still young enough to make any contract he signs pay off. Sounds like a win-win for a team who is willing to bring him aboard.

About the time Hunt is able to return to the league just so happens kind of coincides with when the Cowboys have to make a decision about Elliott's long-term future with the organization. This is a no-brainer from a business standpoint, but we all know that there are other factors involved here. But again, I wouldn't be surprised if this is something that hasn't crossed the mind of Jerry Jones.

Seeing How the NFL and Roger Goodell Handle Things

Jerry Jones, Roger Goodell

Jerry Jones and Roger Goodell (Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News)

I personally believe that this is the reason why Jerry Jones is going to keep a close eye on the Kareem Hunt case, although the other two reasons certainly make sense. I just think he still hasn't put the entire Ezekiel Elliott suspension drama behind him and really wants to see how Roger Goodell and the NFL handles things this time around.

We all know that Zeke's suspension was based on nothing more than hearsay. The NFL's lead investigator even recommended he shouldn't be suspended and that was after interviewing the accuser six times, something that hasn't happened once in Hunt's case. The entire investigation was poorly handled and drawn out, which made the verdict that much more hard to swallow.

I think Jerry Jones has kind of been waiting for another chance to voice his displeasure with the NFL's ability to investigate and punish players of wrongdoing on a consistent basis. This could be the exact kind of opportunity he's been waiting for and you can bet that he won't shy away from voicing his opinions on the matter. In fact, I'm a little surprised he hasn't done so already.

Why do you think Jerry Jones is watching the Kareem Hunt case closely?



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Randy Gregory Is Looking Like We Always Thought He Could

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Need More From Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton

Much of Cowboys Nation had the proverbial pitchforks out when Randy Gregory was penalized for roughing the kicker after a key third down stop last Thursday night. Those same fans were understandably upset when Gregory was then penalized again, this time for lining up in the neutral zone and negating a sack fumble.

It was frustrating to see, and as head coach Jason Garrett said after the game, those plays were essentially turnovers committed by Randy Gregory. Because of these frustrating penalties, combined with his bone-headed personal foul all the way back in Carolina and his history of suspensions, people around the league have called Gregory a "dumb" player, or have suggested the Cowboys are wrong for giving him so many chances.

People have been wondering when the Cowboys' patience for Randy Gregory will pay dividends on the field.

I'm here to tell you that they already are.

Since returning against the Eagles four games ago, Gregory has compiled 3 sacks and 4 quarterback hits. Only DeMarcus Lawrence has been consistently better than Gregory as a pass rusher since he got healthy, and the production difference between the two isn't as large as you'd expect.

Of course, Lawrence receives much more attention from pass protection schemes than Gregory does, but if Gregory can continue to pressure quarterbacks and win his 1-on-1 matchups, things may begin to open up a bit more for Lawrence.

Gregory's calling card heading into the 2015 draft was his pure pass rushing ability. He's the athletic weakside edge rusher fans have been clamoring for for years. And while it took a while for him to get here, he's finally showing signs of playing like the athletic freak and football player he can be.

Gregory's hands, burst, and bend are special, and it was unfair to expect him to put everything together so quickly after not being around actual football for basically two whole seasons. But now that he's healthy and appears to be comfortable in his role, we are seeing more and more productive rushes from Gregory each week.

While Tyrone Crawford has been solid overall, Gregory has become the unquestioned pass rushing RDE, getting healthy and productive while Taco Charlton was injured and inactive. As a pure pass rusher he's clearly the 2nd best defensive end on the roster, behind the All-Pro caliber Lawrence, and looks primed for a Pro Bowl season in 2019.

This Sunday Gregory will take on Jason Peters and the Eagles offensive line. While he hasn't played enough to really have trends against any opponent, if he does have one it is against Peters. In 2016 Gregory tallied 7 tackles and a sack against the Eagles, and he also sacked Carson Wentz just a few weeks ago.

So in those two matchups, we have seen Randy Gregory at his best. As the Cowboys hope to take another step towards wrapping up an NFC East title, they certainly hope Gregory can continue this trend on Sunday afternoon.



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