Jaylon Smith's career nearly ended before he even stepped foot on an NFL field.
The 2016 Fiesta Bowl featured two top-shelf college programs, Notre Dame and Ohio State. You would think the headlines of such a contest would be of excellence on the gridiron but in the first quarter that would all change. Smith would suffer a gruesome knee injury, tearing both his ACL and MCL. The timing couldn't have been worse considering the NFL Draft was just three months away, and the Irish star was looked at as a potential top 10 pick. Many thought his stock would plummet tremendously, but the Dallas Cowboys had a different view in mind so to speak.
On January 7th Smith would have successful surgery to repair both ligaments in his knee. Just four days later, he announced he would forego his senior year and enter the NFL Draft, and the long road to recovery began.
Surprisingly, just six weeks post surgery, Smith was already squatting 500 pounds, truly an amazing accomplishment considering his physical status. By late April, he was already doing field work as he worked his body back into peak condition. When you take into account the seriousness of his injury just three months prior, it was mind-blowing to see him dropping into coverage and swatting a tackling dummy just before the NFL Draft.
Noticeably, he was wearing an Ankle-Foot Orthosis (AFO) device. The nerve damage in his knee caused a condition called drop foot. The brace provided stabilization to the ankle, foot, and knee for Smith and his workout videos began to generate buzz across the NFL landscape.
After taking All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott with the 4th overall pick, the Cowboys took what many deemed an unnecessary gamble with the 34th pick in round two. Even with the doubts flowing rapidly, they decided Smith was worth the risk and made him a Dallas Cowboy. Now that his pro football home had been determined it was time to get to work.
It would be a long shot for Smith to see the field as a rookie, and he wouldn't risk further damage rushing back too quickly. Instead, he spent the season rehabbing and getting acclimated to the Cowboys defensive philosophy, at least as much as he could without actually being on the field of battle. He could be seen on the sidelines cheering his football brothers on weekly as they went 13-3 and won the NFC East, but as we all know, players want to play, and there's no doubt that Smith was itching to make his presence known.
After a year and a half of rehab, and high expectations just from his workout videos alone, Jaylon Smith made his long-awaited NFL debut week one of 2017 against the Giants. It was clear he wasn't quite back to the player that was so highly praised coming out of college, but you could see the flashes. He finished with 81 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 passes defended and 1 sack. More than solid for your first year on the field after ACL and MCL tears.
For years, the Cowboys defense was looked at as the teams weakest unit, but in 2018 that all changed, in large part because of the play of Smith. He would catapult his name into the conversation of the elite linebackers in all of football with his performance in year two. 121 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 passes defended and 4 sacks. This would silence any and all doubters who questioned rather he would ever reach his ceiling, and it also got him named PFF's (Pro Football Focus) Breakout Player of the Year. Also, following the lead of their new defensive star, the Cowboys finished 5th against the run, 7th in fewest points allowed, 7th in total defense and a solid 13th against the pass. I guess it's safe to say if you follow the lead of Jaylon Smith good things will come.
The biggest takeaway from last season in regards to Jaylon Smith was just how unlimited he looked movement wise. No hesitation, no timid motions at all when you watch his film. He shot through gaps like a Cheetah hunting an Antelope, to use a National Geographic analogy. We are seeing exactly why the Cowboys turned in his draft card in 2016, and they are reaping the benefits tremendously.
Now, as the 2019 season approaches look for an All-Pro level season from Smith. He's improved every year he's been on the field and there's no sign of that stopping in the near future. Plus, he has two things most middle linebackers don't have, an All-Pro on each side of him with teammates Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee, making life that much easier for him. Limitations and doubts have been cast aside and now look for Jaylon Smith to raise his game to another level. The "Clear Eye View" is in full swing.
Cowboys en Español: Derrota por Coaches, Dak Prescott Brilla
Los Dallas Cowboys se encuentran contra las cuerdas con un récord de 5-4 y muy, muy poco margen de error. Su división está muy cerrada ya que compiten contra Philadelphia Eagles por la NFC East. Con el mismo récord después de 10 semanas de la NFL, no será un camino fácil para ninguno de estos dos equipos. Se enfrentarán en la semana 16 en un duelo que probablemente definirá el campeón divisional, pero por ahora ambos tienen que trabajar en sus propios errores.
Es difícil estimar cuantas victorias necesitará el eventual campeón de la división, pero podríamos asumir que 10 es un número justo. Es decir, perder dos juegos en las próximas siete semanas no sería el fin para ninguno de los equipos. En el caso de los Cowboys, los próximos partidos son muy interesantes.
- @ Detroit Lions
- @ New England Patriots
- vs Buffalo Bills
- @ Chicago Bears
- vs Los Angeles Rams
- @ Philadelphia Eagles
- vs Washington Redskins
Esta parte del calendario lucía muy complicada al inicio de la temporada pero las cosas han cambiado. Especialmente hablando de los Bears y los Rams. Ambos equipos han sido grandes decepciones en la NFC. Mitchel Trubisky ha jugado pésimo en Chicago y la ofensiva de Sean McVay y los Rams no ha sido ni cerca de lo que habían sido en años anteriores. Si bien no será fácil ganarle a ambos, luce mucho más probable que en septiembre.
Si los Cowboys tuvieran que perder dos juegos y tuviera que pronosticar cuales serían, me inclinaría por los duelos ante Patriots y Rams.
Pero por más que nos frustren las derrotas de los Cowboys, no hay manera de negar que aún están vivos en la caza por la postemporada. Han demostrado que tienen talento, pero su inconsistencia y falta de un buen head coach los han hecho tropezar constantemente esta temporada. Dallas sigue teniendo una de las mejores ofensivas este año y un quarterback que está jugando a un nivel muy alto en Dak Prescott.
Del dicho al hecho, hay mucho trecho. Pero si los Cowboys llegan a hacer "click" se convertirían en un equipo de temerse en enero, incluso jugando como equipo visitante. El problema es que puede que ese "click" no llegue nunca.
Un partido perdido por los coaches
Ante los Minnesota Vikings, hubo muchos problemas. Los Cowboys - una vez más - iniciaron con el pie izquierdo y detrás en el marcador por 14 puntos. La defensiva fue aplastada por Dalvin Cook y el resto de la ofensiva Vikinga y Ezekiel Elliott no encontró manera de ser efectivo en el juego terrestre.
Sin embargo, a pesar de todos estos problemas, es sencillo asignar la responsabilidad de la cuarta derrota en el año para Cowboys: el coacheo.
Con Dallas buscando la remontada en el último momento, tuvieron que comenzar su penúltima serie ofensiva desde su propia yarda cinco. En el momento más clave de la noche, Dak Prescott salió a lucirse como lo había hecho toda la noche, brillando en tercera oportunidad y largo constantemente, incluyendo cinco conversiones y un touchdown en dicho escenario. Desde la yarda cinco, completó seis de siete pases para 79 yardas.
Prescott, cuya actuación fue calibre MVP, vio a sus coaches mandar jugadas terrestres en segunda oportunidad y tercera oportunidad de manera consecutiva. Así como así, le quitaron el control del partido en las últimas jugadas. En vez de dejarlo ganar el partido, mandaron acarreos para Elliott, quien estaba promediando cerca de dos yardas por acarreo.
Esto sin antes haber pateado un gol de campo desde la yarda cinco de los Vikings, haber despejado en la 40 de Minnesota mientras perdían el partido 14-0. Por cierto, ese gol de campo tarde en el último cuarto recortó el deficit de 21-28 (un touchdown) a 24-28 (... un touchdown).
La falta de agresividad llevo a una derrota innecesaria para los Cowboys. Es tiempo de que Jason Garrett tome mejores decisiones en momentos clave y sea más agresivo y falta ver a este equipo confiar más en Prescott que en Elliott. Al final de cuentas, es una liga en la que los quarterbacks hacen la diferencia.
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott Primed for Big Games vs Lions
The Dallas Cowboys were brought back down to earth this past Sunday in their 28-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. After dominating the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys got manhandled in the trenches on both offense and defense. Running Back Dalvin Cook had 183 all-purpose yards (97 rushing, 86 receiving) due to his offensive line opening holes bigger than the state of Texas. All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott, however, was held to just 47 yards on 20 carries because his offensive line got bullied from start to finish.
This coming Sunday, the Cowboys will be looking to bounce back against the Detroit Lions and maintain their position atop the NFC East. The Lions defense is one of the worst in the league vs the run and pass which sets up the Cowboys two biggest offensive stars, Dak Prescott and Elliott to have huge games.
Prescott is currently second in the NFL in passing yards, third in passing touchdowns, and first in QBR. He will get every opportunity to improve on those numbers this Sunday going up against Detroit's 28th ranked passing defense. They've allowed four quarterbacks to pass for over 300 yards, Prescott has three games with such production himself in 2019.
He will be bringing with him a very explosive receiving core. Amari Cooper is currently third in the NFL in receiving yards with 848. He's coming off a game in which he had his second-highest yardage total (147) and tied his highest reception total (11) in any game this season. Michael Gallup has already equaled his reception total and surpassed both his yardage and touchdown totals from his rookie season in 2018. Randall Cobb had his best game by far as a Cowboy with six receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown vs the Vikings.
With Prescott playing at a high level, his receiving core more together than ever, and facing the leagues 30th ranked defense I smell another big game for number 4.
Elliott had his second-worst game of the season vs the Vikings after three consecutive 100-yard performances. The chances of him bouncing back in this game are very high considering the Lions rank 26th vs the run. Seven of the nine teams the Lions have faced have rushed for over 100 yards, including three individual performances over the century mark.
The two-time rushing champion is tied for the second-most games over 100 yards this season with five, trailing only Carolina's Christian McCaffrey who has six. Also, the Cowboys offensive line will be looking to bounce back themselves after the Vikings defensive front took them to the woodshed this past Sunday. I wouldn't at all be surprised if Elliott has one of his biggest performances of the season after such a pedestrian outing last week. Also, having a motivated offensive line blocking for him doesn't hurt either.
The Cowboy's best formula for success is still establishing Elliott early to set up Prescott and the play-action passing game.
With the NFC East still firmly up for grabs, the Cowboys have minimal room for error for this rest of the season. Going up against a defense this bad could be just what the doctor ordered for Prescott and Elliott to dominate on the road. If this were to come to pass, the Cowboys chances at improving to 6-4 this Sunday will be extremely high.
Dallas Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie Becoming a Red Zone Liability?
Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is arguably as talented as just about any defensive back in the NFL. He still young and has quite a bit he can do to improve his game, but there's no denying his talent. One of the things he may need to work on right now is his awareness and discipline in the red zone.
In back to back games No. 24 has been caught out of position and as a result surrendered points in the end zone. Just this last Sunday he gave up a two point conversion to Minnesota Vikings Tight End Kyle Rudolph. The week prior he gave up a touchdown catch to New York Giants Wide Receiver Cody Latimer.
Does this make him a liability in the red zone?
I know if I've noticed Chidobe Awuzie getting victimized in back to back weeks in the red zone opposing offensive coordinators around the league have done the same. As a result, they're going to test Awuzie to find out if they can have the same kind of success.
If I'm Kris Richard I'm personally going to be working on making sure Chidobe is fully aware he needs to be more disciplined with his play, especially in the red zone. He's been caught out of position in back to back games and that can't be something that continues from here on out.
I'm sure Awuzie would tell you himself this is something he needs to clean up. He takes pride in his abilities and knows he can still improve. Hopefully he can take it to heart and better prepare for what's to come. Whether that means just executing his assignments better or maybe studying a little more film. It's up to him to figure out what he needs to do.
As far as the Dallas Cowboys are concerned though, they may need to start giving him a little more help over the top if this is something that continues. And if worse comes to worse, they can always see if Jourdan Lewis or Anthony Brown can be more consistent. I doubt it would come to that, but it is an option.
I for one am hoping No. 24 will just hunker down and figure out what he needs to do in order to take his game to the next level. If he can do that the Cowboys defense will be much better for it. I don't know about you, but I will be keeping a close eye on him for the rest of the season.
Do you think CB Chidobe Awuzie has become a red zone liability?
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