Even in defeat, certain Cowboys shined through as standout performers. Per usual, left tackle Tyron Smith was one of those standouts.
When the New York Giants signed defensive end Olivier Vernon, all of us who love great line play started to get excited for this match up between two of the league’s best happening twice a year. Sunday night, we got part two of their now yearly battles, and Tyron graded out as the clear victor.
Let me get this out of the way first. Yes, Vernon finished with a good amount of quarterback hurries, even though he did not record a sack. More often than not, however, those hurries occurred when he either moved onto guard Ronald Leary, or went unblocked by offensive design.
This play went down as a QB hurry for Vernon, but it wasn’t due to Tyron Smith not doing his job. The Giants brought more blitzers than the Cowboys had blockers, so the end man on the line of scrimmage to Prescott’s front side becomes the hot read, and goes unblocked. In this case, that player is Olivier Vernon.
Just wanted to make sure I put that out there for all those who are doubting Tyron’s ability to stop Olivier Vernon.
When they did line up one on one, Tyron exerted his dominance over Vernon on more than one occasion. Early in the first half, we see Vernon line up in a “wide 9” against Smith. Here, he tries to use his speed and bend around the edge to beat Tyron. Instead, Smith kicks back quickly yet patiently, waiting for Vernon to get into his radius to deliver a punch.
Then, Tyron shuts Vernon down and forces him to lose his balance. Great job by Tyron Smith on this snap.
On Brice Butler’s dropped touchdown pass, Tyron once again does an excellent job on Vernon. Vernon attempts to hit Smith with a “bob swat,” faking to the inside and then ripping Tyron’s outside shoulder.
Smith remains strong at the point of attack, however, and refuses to allow Vernon to fool him.
Then, of course, there was this play. No, it doesn’t come against Olivier Vernon, but it is still an incredible pull and kick from Tyron Smith.
First using his great footwork and mobility to pull around the edge, Smith gets to the next level of the defense and meets a defensive back. His eyes must’ve gotten so wide when he saw Eli Apple just standing there, awaiting his inevitable fate.
And then Tyron does that. Absolutely demolishing Apple with his incredible upper body strength, Smith springs Ezekiel Elliott down the sideline for his best run of the entire game. Smith is so good at the line of scrimmage when asked to zone block, but I would love to see him asked to pull more often going forward. Whether he was to pull through the line for a linebacker on a counter or power play, or simply execute a pin and pull with the tight end similar to what we see here, Tyron can do it better than just about anyone.
The Dallas Cowboys offensive line gets talked about a lot, much more than any other o-line in the league. As annoying as it must get for other fan bases, the praise is certainly justified. As good as the Giants defense is, and as lethargic as the Cowboys offense looked on Sunday night, the offensive line still did a very good job.
In particular, Tyron Smith was great on Sunday. Just like he is each and every week. After the loss, there are questions about certain aspects of the offense being asked by fans and media alike. There is absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind whether Tyron Smith and the offensive line will show up to play, however.