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Jaylon Smith: He’s Got The Rush, But No Interceptions?

If you’re like me, one of the first things you did when the Dallas Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith was drop your jaw. I mean, how could the Cowboys take someone at 34th overall who very likely won’t play a snap this season, and may never take another one again? Once I turned on the tape of him at Notre Dame, that answer became a lot less murky. Ladies and gentlemen, Jaylon Smith is an absolute star at linebacker. Throughout his college career, he has showed instincts, anticipation, patience, toughness, and knowledge.

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If you’re like me, one of the first things you did when the Dallas Cowboys drafted Jaylon Smith was drop your jaw. I mean, how could the Cowboys take someone at 34th overall who very likely won’t play a snap this season, and may never take another one again? Once I turned on the tape of him at Notre Dame, that answer became a lot less murky.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jaylon Smith is an absolute star at linebacker. Throughout his college career, he has showed instincts, anticipation, patience, toughness, and knowledge. His tackling mechanics are excellent and he has a great feel for the play. Once he makes his mind up about where the ball is going, his pursuit and athleticism is second to none in this draft class.

Having said all that, one of the more intriguing stat lines that I saw for him, which I’m sure many of you are already aware of, is his lack of interceptions in college. I found it a little troublesome that someone who would’ve likely been picked in the top 10 didn’t tally a single interception, and only three forced fumbles, over a three year span at Notre Dame. How is this possible?

In order to answer this question, I went back and watched his tape from college. I wanted to get a better understanding of his lack of production.

Was it the scheme he played in where he was never put in a good position to make plays? Was it a lack of instincts where he just wasn’t putting himself in the right places at the right times? Was it just simply a lack of catching ability where he was in the correct place at the right time, but just couldn’t haul the pass in?

Catching/Hands

In all five of his games from 2015 that I watched, he only had his hands on one semi-catchable ball, and damn near came up with the turnover. In order for him to have landed the catch, he would’ve had to keep the ball off the ground on a diving attempt, which is obviously much easier said than done. See the play below:

jaylon_int_1

Coverage

Jaylon has an uncanny ability in the open field. Whether he’s tackling, or reading the eyes of the quarterback, he always seems to make great plays. I’d argue another factor that contributed to his lack of turnover production was the fact that he can essentially blanket all threats that he saw in coverage. Quarterbacks rarely threw in his direction and when they did, opposing teams tended to scheme against him.

The clip below is a great example of his coverage ability. You can see that the tight end is supposed to draw Jaylon’s coverage up field to allow the receiver to cross his face on the drag and pick up yards. Jaylon’s instincts allow him to see the play developing and only allow a small gain. Because of abilities like this, teams tended to throw away from the talented linebacker.

jaylon_coverage

Scheme

When watching his tape, it’s easy to see why Jaylon is such a high prospect. His versatility cannot be understated. He will line up as a defensive back on some downs to play man-to-man coverage, and then on the next play he can line up on the edge as a defensive end. I believe this is the main reason he wasn’t able to record an interception.

I’d argue that he was used to bring pressure on almost the same amount of snaps that he dropped back in coverage. Whether he played a linebacker role and blitzed up the middle/on the edge, or put his hand in the dirt, his pass rush skills were called on early and often.

So, Why Not More Interceptions?

I honestly believe that had Jaylon Smith played more of a concrete inside linebacker role at Notre Dame, he would’ve had much higher interception totals. As I said from the previous section, his defensive coordinator recognized quickly how versatile a player he was, and moved him all over the field, which didn’t do him any favors in terms of turnover numbers.

His Role Moving Forward

With Rolando McClain’s contract expiring at the end of this season, I see Jaylon lining up as the all-important MIKE linebacker in our base 4-3 front. This is a guy who can fly to the ball and is big enough to take on blockers, allowing Sean Lee to navigate space and make tackles. Smith has a great feel for open space and can read a quarterback’s eyes as good as anyone in this draft class.

So, to those who are weary of Jaylon’s potential at MIKE linebacker, I’m telling you now that I don’t think it should be a concern. His fit in our defense is going to allow him to play comfortably in space, and use his natural instincts to make plays.

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Dallas Cowboys fan since the Drew Bledsoe "era." I love Tony AND Dak. I like to think that I'm the most objective that a fan can get, while still being a diehard, which I truly believe is the 8th wonder of the world. Go Cowboys!!

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Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Headlines - Forget the Triplets: Cowboys Need The Underrated to Shine in 2016
Ashley Landis / The Dallas Morning News

For better or worse, the Cowboys don’t even need to play football to be all over national TV. I guess it’s just part of being the one and only America’s Team. For the second consecutive week, Fox Sports had a Dallas Cowboys’ player on set for Fox’s “Undisputed.”

Just a week ago, Brice Butler made waves with some controversial comments that failed to make him look like a “great teammate.”

This time, Fox’s guest was Cowboys’ Cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Unlike Butler, I really think we should give Scandrick credit for being a very good teammate, and acting like one on his TV appearance.

Throughout the segment, it feels as if Orlando is being tricked into saying something against his teammates. Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe start bashing on Dez Bryant‘s performance and the fact that he should be replaced.

Of course, this is the kind of stuff fans in Cowboys Nation are thinking about. Heck, I really wouldn’t even mind if Dez isn’t wearing a star next season. However, I really disliked Butler’s comments when asked if he would’ve done a better job if given the same opportunities as Dez.

Scandrick’s responses were awesome though. When asked if he would defend Dez, he didn’t even hesitate.

“I don’t think he’s lost any confidence. He’s one of the most confident players I’ve ever been around. I think it can all be fixed. I think he just needs to get back to work and get back to the basics.” – Orlando Scandrick on Dez Bryant.

Scandrick also answered questions about what went wrong with the Cowboys this season by pointing out the fact they lost one of their best players because of a suspension, and some injuries. But he also said what’s been in our minds for a long time. When asked what was the biggest reason they struggled, he said some painful, yet truthful words: “We played some bad football against some very good teams.”

Later, he was asked about how Sean Lee’s absence affected the defense, he insisted they didn’t step up. At the end of the day, the NFL is a league in which you can’t be that dependent on a single player.

Sean Lee is an awesome player, but I think we’d all like to see this defense be a little less dependent on him.

Scandrick even had to defend Dak Prescott.

Dak was highly criticized after a sophomore season in which he struggled, alongside the entire team. But in the words of Orlando, we should “give him time.” Dak had a lot on his plate, but he made a lot of progress for the Cowboys.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

Orlando Scandrick’s time in Dallas may be coming to an end, especially with young guys like Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis taking over. He’s signed through 2019, so who knows; maybe we see him wearing the star for a bit longer.

“It’s always a possibility.” – Orlando Scandrick on potentially not returning to Dallas next season.

Even still, it’s nice to see him support his football team and his friends on a show which featured a non-starting Cowboys’ wide receiver taking shots against his team. Orlando Scandrick deserves an applause.

Tell me what you think about “Orlando Scandrick Talks Cowboys’ Disappointing Season on FOX Sports” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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WR Brice Butler Makes Waves With Controversial Comments

Kevin Brady

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Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas Cowboys: By the Numbers

Heading into this 2018 offseason, the Dallas Cowboys have to answer some critical questions about their wide receiver corps.

  • Is Dez Bryant still worthy of being labeled/targeted as a number one receiver?
  • Is Ryan Switzer ready to dethrone Cole Beasley as the team’s starting slot receiver?
  • What in the world do you do with Terrance Williams?
  • And, lastly, do you bring back last year’s WR4 Brice Butler?

Well, it appears that final question answered itself earlier this week.

Free agent wide out Brice Butler took to Fox Sports to voice his opinions on his future with the Cowboys, stating that if he isn’t going to be a starter, he isn’t going to come back at all.

“I think in this league, when you think about the business aspect, you’ve got to follow the money trail… Both of our starters made money. Terrance [Williams] just got paid last year. So there were times where I was like, ‘I’m making plays, aren’t we trying to win games? Why am I not on the field?’ But that’s the only thing that I can really think of.” -Brice Butler

Butler also made waves with a comment on Fox’s Undisputed, claiming that if given the same chances as Dez Bryant, he would have been more productive than Bryant was this season.

I am totally for a player getting the money he feels he deserves, and I wasn’t really “for” the Cowboys bringing back Butler anyway, but he probably sealed his fate In Dallas with his comments. This is the same team that cut Lucky Whitehead last offseason to send a message, and has tried to “clean up” their locker room with the “right kind of guys” lately, so it’d be hard to imagine them re-signing Butler now.

Even though I don’t think it’s that outlandish of a comment for him to make. I mean, why shouldn’t he want an opportunity to start somewhere? Unfortunately for Butler, I doubt that opportunity is in Dallas.

Plus, we all thought Butler should’ve gotten more chances during his time here, dating back to the disastrous season in 2015. And when he did get chances, Butler showed flashes of how valuable he can be.

Still, I think the Cowboys should draft a wide out to be their much-needed Z receiver, and signing Butler would just add to the log jam of pretty mediocre players at the position already.

Could Brice Butler have been more productive than Bryant? I guess we’ll never know. But it’s astounding how this rather average football team cannot help but make the news each and every day.

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Straight Outta Dallas: Cole Beasley Releases His First Rap Single

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Straight Outta Dallas: Cole Beasley Releases His First Rap Single
Getty Images / Ronald Martinez

During an offseason filled with concerns for Cowboys Nation, Cole Beasley sure helped fans take their minds off coaching changes, free agency and draft prospects for a moment. Bease took Twitter by storm when he tweeted a link to his first single as a rapper… yes, you read that right.

Cole Beasley: an NFL Wide Receiver by Day, Rapper by Night

Cole Beasley on Twitter

80 Stings – Single by Cole Beasley on Apple Music

Listen to songs from the album 80 Stings – Single, including “80 Stings”. Buy the album for $0.99. Songs start at $0.99. Free with Apple Music subscription.

“ColdNation Records” is the name of the company Beasley created alongside music producer Victor Clark, to release his first single. You can listen to “80 Stings” on iTunes, Spotify and just about every digital store, as the tweet above mentions.

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t know what to expect. But when I turned the volume up and played the song for the first time, I was surprised. It’s awesome.

When Beasley caught that football behind his helmet versus the Giants back in week 1, I thought “man, that’s it. Beasley can’t surprise me anymore.” Well, he proved me wrong.

“80 Stings” isn’t only performed by him, but also written by him.

It turns out Cole Beasley has been writing since he was in college. And if you already listened to the single, you know he’s awesome at composing, and his flow is actually very quick.

The whole song is pretty entertaining, but it does have some verses that stick out more than others. We all know Beasley has been an underdog his entire football career, so it comes as no surprise that he introduces himself as “Mr. Slept On”, for instance.

Throughout the song, the 28-year-old receiver shouts out his wife and his children (and the fact he’s saving money for when they go to college, something we had already seen him proudly mentioning on Twitter.)

Jerry Jones and Dak Prescott both got their own name-drops on Beasley’s “80 Stings”, too.

“But Sunday, Jerry’s boss now,

I’m a dog when Dak get the ball out,

Pull the sauce out…”

– Cole Beasley on his first single, “80 Stings”

The rest of the album, according to “Killa Beasley”, will be released this Spring.

Cole Beasley insisted this is just a passion and that in no way will it affect his football career. So, really… don’t worry about it. Just enjoy this awesome thing he decided to share with his fans.

This time of the season can be sort of stressing for Cowboys Nation. A lot of changes in the coaching staff that may not be the desired ones, a lot of players Dallas needs to bring back, and just the aftermath of a disappointing 9-7 season.

It’s nice to have something like this to talk about, for a few days at least.

From all of Cowboys Nation, congratulations on this achievement, Mr. Slept On!

Tell me what you think about “Straight Outta Dallas: Cole Beasley Releases His First Rap Single” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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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