Earlier this week, Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith assured fans that he would be ready to go for the 2017 season opener against the New York Giants.
Being selected 34th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, Smith was forced to miss the entirety of his rookie campaign due to a severe knee injury which caused nerve damage down to his foot. The injury occurred during his final collegiate game for Notre Dame, in the Fiesta Bowl.
Ironically, the Fighting Irish were playing the Ezekiel Elliott-led Ohio State Buckeyes on that day.
As Jaylon Smith missed more and more time, his legend around Cowboys Nation continued to grow. This legend only grew exponentially with the workout videos Smith has posted, as he looks to be in super-human type shape.
But not all Cowboys fans are caught up on why Jaylon Smith's return is such a big deal. In fact, I had someone ask me if his game was really worth all of the hype which surrounds it. The short answer is yes, but I wanted to re-visit something I wrote on Smith after the Cowboys drafted him last Spring.
During our typical scouting report series on the Cowboys draft picks, I published a rather lengthy film review on what Smith can bring to the Cowboys defense, and these were my findings.
The 6'2" 225 pound middle linebacker was one of the best defenders in the country during the 2015 collegiate season. Tallying 225 tackles his last two seasons as a starter, Smith rose to the top of draft boards and was considered a sure-fire top ten pick. Instead, he fell to the risk-taking Cowboys in the second round, who will now reap the benefits of this pick for a long time.
First off, Smith’s football IQ is off the charts. He is able to read, recognize, and react so quickly. Here we see Smith quickly read the low-hats and first steps of the offensive linemen to understand that it is a run play. As soon as he reads it, he attacks and blows the offensive lineman into the backfield.
Make or find animated gifs like Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame) vs. USC (2015) on gifs.com
A quick and relentless defender, Jaylon Smith played with incredible aggression for the Irish. His closing speed is top-notch, as we see him chase down the running back from the backside on the play below. Avoiding the backside tackle who is supposed to cut him off, Smith quickly closes on the running back and makes a clean tackle.
Make or find animated gifs like Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame LB) vs Michigan 2014 on gifs.com
Jaylon Smith can play all three linebacker positions in the Cowboys 4-3 defense, but will be the day one starter at MIKE if fully healthy. A clear and immediate upgrade over last year's starting MIKE, Anthony Hitchens, Smith joins Sean Lee to create one of the top linebacker combinations in the entire league.
If needed, Smith came down and played as an EDGE rusher as well. His burst off the ball, athleticism, and overall physicality helped him to be offensive tackles and get after quarterbacks. Maybe, just maybe, Smith can be used as a situational pass rusher and the weakside defensive end the Cowboys still so badly need.
Regardless, Jaylon Smith is clearly a starting MIKE linebacker on this team, and has Pro Bowl potential as well. As long as the nerve is firing and he can play football, Jaylon Smith is going to show everyone why the Cowboys were willing to take such a great risk in round two of last year's draft.
Dallas Cowboys “All or Nothing” Series to Shed New Light on HC Jason Garrett
You likely already know by now that the 2017 Dallas Cowboys season -- by all accounts, a forgettable one for fans, coaches, and big-name players -- will be documented forever thanks to NFL Films' latest All or Nothing series.
Effectively, All or Nothing is a new spin on the popular Hard Knocks series with one major difference. This Amazon Prime exclusive doesn't just follow a team through training camp, as NFL Films gets inside team meetings and games throughout the entire season.
The 2017 Cowboys yielded just nine wins, creating more than enough drama for television along the way. This was yet another season where Head Coach Jason Garrett's job was put on the line, although early reviews of All or Nothing (available to the public April 27th) paint Garrett as the lead antagonist.
Jason Garrett drops at least 10 f-bombs in the first show. Before the Broncos game in Week 2: "You want to quiet the game down? Hand the f---in' ball to 21 and knock their ass off the ball.
Watching the Titanic and expecting a different outcome is a surefire way to set yourself up for disappointment, as will be reliving a frustrating season in Dallas. By the end though, Cowboys fans will have a much better understanding of where the 2018 team stands - particularly in the eyes of a Head Coach they looked to fire once again this offseason.
Jason Garrett has long been described as a "players coach", one that his Cowboys teams want to fight for. Whether or not the Cowboys have gone too far in constantly churning their roster in Garrett's image for little end result will likely be determined this season.
This is a Head Coach that has been in place for the departure of DeMarcus Ware, Tony Romo (serving as a pivotal decision maker for the Cowboys choosing Dak Prescott as their full-time starter in 2016), and most recently Dez Bryant.
An added bonus to All or Nothing will likely be that it captures Dez Bryant's final moments with the Cowboys.
Garrett to Zeke at practice after Broncos loss: "I want that f---in guy at Ohio St. who was running down on that kickoff. Remember after you played your 2nd play in the NFL against the Seahawks, you came over to me and you said, 'Give me the f---in ball!'
The Cowboys did not just lose Ezekiel Elliott in 2017 (serving his six game suspension), and All or Nothing will remind every one of just how much talent came off the field for Garrett's team last season. Coming out at the same time as the Dallas hosted 2018 Draft, Cowboys fans can build their excitement for a 2018 triumph back to the playoffs.
Anything short of this likely costs Jason Garrett his job, although everything he means to the Dallas Cowboys will be put in better-than-ever perspective by All or Nothing.
I don't wanna spoil the "All or Nothing" TV show more than what you've already seen or heard. But if you watch it, you're going to get a great look at: 1. Jason Garrett's actual persona 2. The dynamics of Dez's relationship within the team 3.
Cowboys en Español: Definiendo la Urgencia por un WR este NFL Draft
El líder en recepciones de anotación en la historia de la franquicia más emblemática en la historia de los Dallas Cowboys, Dez Bryant, ha visto su tiempo portando la estrella solitaria llegar a su fin. Un fin, por cierto, que dejó a algunos cuantos aficionados, administrativos y jugadores en un estado de descontento.
Por más que me gustaría entrar a detalle de si el veterano receptor merecía ser recortado o no, si el equipo tomó la decisión correcta o no, el NFL Draft está a menos de una semana de distancia. Así que, en vez de hablar de lo que pudo haber sido, hablemos de lo que puede ser.
Los Cowboys, a pesar de ser conocidos como una potencia ofensiva en las últimas temporadas, necesitan a un wide receiver. Sí, Dallas consiguió al agente libre de Jacksonville Allen Hurns, pero siendo honestos, no parece ser suficiente talento para un equipo que quiere construirle una ofensiva amigable a su quarterback, Dak Prescott.
Si el roster sólo tiene a Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer, Noah Brown y Deonte Thompson; se necesita un WR. Incluso con Bryant en el equipo, se necesitaba un receptor. Lo cual lleva a la gran pregunta: ¿el despido de Dez significa que a los Cowboys les urge aún más un receptor? ¿Significa que definitivamente buscarán mejorar la posición con su selección de primera ronda?
Algo queda claro, la administración sabía lo que sucedería. Dez Bryant no estaba en los planes para el 2018 y claramente sus planes para abordar el NFL Draft no se verán cambiados por la partida del apasionado #88.
Estas estrategias se plantean por meses y más meses. Los Cowboys se han fijado mucho en la posición de receptor, desde que fue el NFL Combine hasta las visitas privadas que toman lugar a lo largo de Abril.
Es un hecho que tienen en la mira a los receptores. Claramente, quieren añadir más talento a la ofensiva para Dak Prescott.
En una clase de prospectos que cuenta con bastantes receptores, otra pregunta naturalmente, es ¿lo harán en primera ronda o más tarde? Me sorprendería demasiado si el equipo espera hasta la tercera ronda. Sin duda, es algo que tienen que atender con una de sus dos primeros picks.
En el primero, la selección #19 global, podrían encontrar a uno de los tres mejores receptores del año. Calvin Ridley, de Alabama; Courtland Sutton, de SMU; DJ Moore, de Maryland. Si buscarán el "remplazo" de Dez Bryant en uno de estos tres jugadores, definitivamente será uno de estos tres prospectos.
Todos tienen lo suyo. Sutton es un receptor estilo "X" (como Dez Bryant) mientras Ridley, por ejemplo, es claramente un receptor "Z" (como Terrance Williams). DJ Moore brinda un poco de versatilidad entre ambos roles, y podría ser un jugador de impacto en cualquiera que se le juegue, aunque probablemente brillaría más si se le permitiera jugar como un "Z."
Afortunadamente para Dallas, el recién firmado Allen Hurns también es capaz de tomar cualquiera de los dos roles. Esto le da flexibilidad a los Cowboys de tomar al que más les guste, o en su defecto, a quien esté disponible.
En mi segundo Mock Draft del año, simulé a Courtland Sutton, producto de SMU a los Cowboys con el pick #19. Los coaches de la Estrella Solitaria han mostrado bastante interés por el producto local y no me sorprendería nada verlos aterrizar un receptor como él la próxima semana.
Ahora bien, si Dallas decide esperar hasta la segunda ronda para conseguir a un par de manos confiables, encontrarán talento. Definitivamente. James Washington, DJ Chark, Michael Gallup, Anthony Miller, entre otros podrían estar ahí en la selección #50 (segunda ronda).
Si el equipo quiere tomar talento para otra posición en la primera, lo podrán hacer sabiendo que encontrarán un WR talentoso al día siguiente.
Afortunadamente, esta ofensiva se basa en Ezekiel Elliott y el juego terrestre detrás de la línea ofensiva. Los receptores son importantes, por supuesto, pero no es necesario tener algo tan dominante como lo fue Dez Bryant en el 2013 y el 2014, por ejemplo.
Por ahora, sólo falta esperar como abordan los Cowboys esta necesidad la próxima semana cuando el NFL Draft del 2018 tome lugar en el mismo lugar en el que este equipo juega sus partidos e intenta pelear, el AT&T Stadium.
Con un poco de suerte, estrenaran el campo este 2018 obteniendo su primer victoria del año la próxima semana.
Kris Richard Taking Over For Rod Marinelli Earlier Than Expected?
Believe it or not, a lot of Cowboys Nation has grown tired of Rod Marinelli's simplistic and predictable 4-3 defensive scheme. Dallas Cowboys fans are ready for a change and quite a few of them believe that Kris Richard is the answer.
The Dallas Cowboys hired Kris Richard earlier this offseason to become the new defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator. Almost immediately, rumors and speculation began to circulate that he would be the next defensive coordinator, taking over for Rod Marinelli once he retires.
It's really not that big of a reach to see such a promotion happen, especially since Richard has found previous success as a defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks. But, as things stand right now, Rod Marinelli still has the title of DC in Dallas, but for how long?
We have already seen a few changes being made to the Cowboys defense that seem to have Kris Richard's fingerprints on them. Moving Byron Jones from safety to cornerback for instance is a perfect example.
Of course, we could see even more of Richard's imprint on the Cowboys defense next week when the 2018 NFL Draft gets underway. I think he will have a big say in the types of players they select if he is indeed expected to become the next defensive coordinator.
Further evidence Kris Richard will have quite a bit of input on the Cowboys defense this season is the fact that a lot of players have been watching game film of the Seahawks' defense.
Sean Lee said the Cowboys have been watching film of the Seahawks' defense. Said it's been fun being around new DB coach/passing game coordinator Kris Richard
I don't know about you, but for me this is pretty solid evidence the Dallas Cowboys are going to make some changes on the defensive side of the ball and that Kris Richard will have a lot of say in those changes.
I may be reading too much into all this or I may be hitting the nail right on the head. But, there's no denying there seems to be a renewed energy from the Cowboys defensive players. Maybe it's the hiring of Kris Richard or something else, but I personally find it intriguing.
I'm really looking forward to finding out how all of these pieces end up falling into place. I really don't care who holds the title of defensive coordinator in 2018 as long as we see improvement from the Cowboys defense.
For the Cowboys defense to improve from last season it's going to take a collaborative effort from the entire coaching staff, not just Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard. That's just the way things work in the NFL, but it's never going to stop us from speculating when some new blood is brought in.
Do you think Kris Richard is taking over for Rod Marinelli earlier than expected?
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
Star Blog3 days ago
Kris Richard Taking Over For Rod Marinelli Earlier Than Expected?
Star Blog7 days ago
Making Sense of the “Garrett Guys” Behind Cowboys Dez Bryant Release
Star Blog2 weeks ago
3 Cowboys Players Who Will Have a “Breakout” 2018 Season
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Cowboys Building a DL That Could Potentially Be Special
NFL Draft2 days ago
John’s 7 Round Cowboys Mock Draft, with Trades
Star Blog6 days ago
What Dez Bryant’s Departure Could Mean For La’el Collins
Star Blog7 days ago
Cowboys Aren’t Better Without Dez, But They Can Be
NFL Draft1 week ago
John’s 7-Round Cowboys Mock Draft