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Cowboys Need Jaylon Smith Beyond the Playing Field

Jess Haynie

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Jaylon Smith

You could argue that no player came into the Cowboys 2017 training camp with more intrigue than linebacker Jaylon Smith. The second-round pick last year, Smith’s delayed debut from a major knee injury has been anticipated for a long time. Everyone is behind him; a player who seems as exceptional personally as he does in talent.

It is who Jaylon Smith seems to be as a person, driven and dedicated, that we’re going to look at today. These traits make him valuable not just as a linebacker for 16-19 games a year, but in every facet of the team’s activities. The example he sets can impact the entire team for many years to come, making his successful return all the more important for the Cowboys organization.

Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens

LBs Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, & Anthony Hitchens

The Cowboys are currently transitioning between eras. The move from Tony Romo to Dak Prescott at quarterback was a major shift, but there are still veteran players in key positions of leadership. Jason Witten and Dez Bryant on offense, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick on defense; these older players still have some of the biggest voices on the team.

This leadership structure is going to be changing in short order. 2017 may very well be Witten’s last year before retirement. Scandrick, who turned 30 in February, may only have one or two seasons left before the Cowboys will look to shed his contract. Dez Bryant turns 29 in November and has to keep playing at a high level to avoid his own cap casualty.

Sean Lee, easily the Cowboys’ best defensive player and the captain of the group, turned 31 just about a week ago. His days as an elite linebacker are numbered, and the new reality of professional football with rising concussion and CTE awareness makes the old timetables obsolete. Players are walking away from the game younger than ever, and Lee has a personal history with concussions that makes an earlier retirement very possible.

Jaylon Smith

LB Jaylon Smith

As these veterans make their exits over the next few seasons, it will be critical for young player to step into those vacant leadership roles. The offense already has Dak Prescott and the stalwarts on the offensive line. The defense needs guys of similar caliber, who can set the example off the field as much as on it; who can set the pace for their teammates in how they approach the game.

Jaylon Smith is as poised to assume that role as anyone on defense. With other young studs like safety Byron Jones and defensive tackle Maliek Collins, Smith is part of what could be a strong nucleus for the Cowboys defense for the next decade. The strong character that got Jaylon drafted in the first place, that gave Dallas confidence he could come back from such a catastrophic injury, is something they want in the team’s foundation.

Perhaps the recent issues with suspensions and player conduct in Dallas are what especially bring this to mind. Obviously, nobody can really stop their teammates from making mistakes. The idea of “culture” in overrated in the NFL; grown men with millions of dollars are going to behave how they choose. But if even one other player is positively effected by Jaylon’s example, that’s a whole new kind of value.

So, while our focus has been on the ways that Jaylon Smith can help the Cowboys on the field, his potential impact in the locker room is also a major aspect of what he offers. It’s not just about getting great return on a second-round pick, but continuing to put the pieces in place for a lasting foundation. Jaylon can be the future of the Cowboys defense in more ways than one, and that’s why we’re all rooting so hard for him.

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Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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4 Comments
  • Ethan Chazin

    Jess, totally agree. Though I never watched Jaylon play at Notre Dame, everything I’ve read about him speaks volumes to his positive attitude, phenomenal work ethic and great teammate. Every article I’ve read speaks to people around him who know him wanting him to succeed. It would be awesome to see him be able to play and fulfill a lifelong dream

    • Jess Haynie

      Thanks for the response, Ethan. You’re right about how awesome it would be to see Jaylon work out. Too often we see the guys who waste their opportunity; how can you not not root for someone who is having to work so hard to make sure it’s not taken away from him?

  • John Williams

    Brings up an interesting question not realizing that Sean Lee was already 31. Are Wilson or Hitchens the future at WLB?

  • John Williams

    On Jaylon. He’s the kind of positive thinker that players of this generation needs. Someone who is always thinking the best about his situation and seems to be an encourager as well. people will follow his lead, much like they do Prescott because they are positive people, who have been through a lot and haven’t changed despite the success they’ve had or will have.

Dallas Cowboys

Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

Sean Martin

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Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

After hiring Paul Alexander to fill their vacant OL coaching position, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing to retool their offensive staff below Scott Linehan. Sanjay Lal has been hired to coach the Cowboys’ wide receivers, replacing Derek Dooley.

Lal has experience as a WR coach with four different teams, dating back to 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted up to this position after serving as the Raiders’ quality control coach from 2007-08.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys have reached an agreement with Sanjay Lal to become the team’s WR coach. Lal was with Indianapolis last season and replaces Derek Dooley on the staff.

Most recently, Sanjay Lal coached the receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He has also been with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

In this interview with the Colts, Lal mentions being very detail-oriented with a focus on the technical aspects of playing receiver.

Lal beats out former Cowboys WR Miles Austin for this position, earning the right to lead a room of receivers in desperate need of fresh talent. In an offseason that’s been about finding fresh ideas with the coaching staff so far though, the Cowboys have a new voice on offense.

Tell us what you think about “Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts

Jess Haynie

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Matt Eberflus, Sean Lee

Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense.

He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now.

If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position.

Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee.

He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football.

Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season.

Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot.

Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here.

Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to.

It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator.

Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most.

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.

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