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LEEdership: 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee

It was just over two years ago that you were sitting at work, home, or scrolling along Twitter when your heart was blown to smithereens. Sean Lee, the stud linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, had torn his ACL. On the first day of OTAs. While being mauled by the team’s most recent 1st Round selection, Zack Martin. Ugh.

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee

It was just over two years ago that you were sitting at work, home, or scrolling along Twitter when your heart was blown to smithereens.

Sean Lee, the stud linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys, had torn his ACL. On the first day of OTAs. While being mauled by the team's most recent 1st Round selection, Zack Martin. Ugh.

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee 1

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is helped off the field by head athletic trainer Jim Maurer, left, and associate athletic trainer Britt Brown, right, after suffering an unknown left leg injury during an NFL football organized team activity, Tuesday, May 27, 2014, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) 05312014xALDIA

The news that Lee was out for the season stifled our hopes for 2014. How could a defense coming off one of the worst performances in NFL History have even one modicum of success now that its best player was gone for the year? Rod Marinelli answered that question on the way to a 12-4 record, NFC East Championship, and a playoff win to boot.

Dallas certainly missed Sean Lee throughout the season. Sure, they got some help from the freshly-traded-for Rolando McClain, but nobody is Sean Lee. "The General", as he's known to fans, still made an impact by patrolling the sidelines and holding his teammates accountable. He is, whether on the field or not, an unquestionable leader for the defense and this franchise.

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee 2

Dec 21, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys injured linebacker Sean Lee on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Why is this relevant today? It's been over two years since that dark day and Sean Lee rebounded with a performance for the ages in 2015. He started 14 games (second most in his career) and finished with career highs in both tackles and sacks (76 and 2.5 respectively). Lee's 2015 season was in fact so spectacular that it culminated with his first ever Pro Bowl selection.

This is important to the loyal members of Cowboys Nation because our team is in a very similar situation with this year's 2nd Round selection - Jaylon Smith.

You're well aware of Jaylon's knee issue, granted not a torn ACL like Lee's, and of the risk involved with it. We've all heard Jerry Jones and Co. say with hopeful eyes that Jaylon could play in 2016. Personally I find that very unlikely, but the 2017 version of Jaylon Smith is going to be a nightmare for anyone who comes into contact with him.

My fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin recently posed a question here on Inside The Star: Who Will Lead The Cowboys Defense in 2016?

//insidethestar.com/who-will-lead-the-cowboys-defense-in-2016/

He has some suggestions, Sean Lee among them, but I think that Jaylon Smith is a name worthy of consideration. Leadership is a trait well-ingrained to the former Notre Dame star who in fact served as a Team Captain for the Irish. All of these things boiled in a pot result in one thing that Jaylon needs to put into practice throughout the 2016 season - Leedership.

LEEdership

As he will very likely miss all of the upcoming season, Jaylon Smith needs to bust out Sean Lee's 2014 playbook. Jaylon needs to train like Lee did, study like Lee did, walk like Lee did... Jaylon Smith needs to be a carbon copy of the 2014 version of Sean Lee.

Cowboys Headlines - 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee 3

We all love Sean Lee, but everyone is willing to admit that Jaylon has more natural talent than The General. Imagine if young Jaylon winds up with the same work ethic and disposition as Lee? The possibilities are endless!

Jaylon Smith is not Sean Lee. I don't want to pretend that he is. What I do want is for the LEEdership that Sean has demonstrated to ripple into Jaylon. It's the "right kind of guy" approach that Jason Garrett preaches and it is quickly becoming the Cowboy Way among linebackers that suit up for America's Team.

Let's put these two together and have some fun.

What do you make of LEEdership? Is it something Jaylon Smith should put into practice? Let us know! Comment below, Email me at RJ@RJOchoaShow.com, or Tweet to me at @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "LEEdership: 2016 Is To Jaylon Smith What 2014 Was To Sean Lee" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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