Connect with us

Star Blog

In Season for Youth, Cowboys Must Make Tough Choice on Jaylon Smith

Sean Martin

Published

on

In Season For Youth, Cowboys Must Make Tough Decision On Jaylon Smith 1

The Dallas Cowboys are in the position they are on defense, losing consecutive games by allowing a combined 70 points to the Rams and Packers at home, for a ton of reasons. If Aaron Rodgers is still in your nightmares this morning, the horrifying image of Davante Adams stretching over Jourdan Lewis to win the game is probably at the forefront of your blame on Dallas’ young defense. In a season that was going to be all about the youth Rod Marinelli has on his side of the ball though, an unexpected hindering force has been 2016 second round pick Jaylon Smith.

An amazing story of perseverance and medical achievement, Jaylon Smith isn’t just not helping the Cowboys at MIKE linebacker right now – he is hurting this defense with the amount of snaps he’s seeing despite ineffectiveness against the run and pass.

Jaylon Smith Vs Packers – Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

The reason the Cowboys lack any depth on defense is largely due to the risks they’ve taken in the draft to quickly fix weaknesses at all three levels here. The Jaylon Smith pick itself remains a risk that’s yet to pay off, as he is unfortunately a fraction of the player he was at Notre Dame.

When Smith starred for the Fighting Irish, scouts everywhere could watch his tape and agree on the 6’2″, 233-pound beast’s status as a top-10 prospect. This was thanks to his constant presence defending the run from sideline to sideline, dropping well against the pass, and pressuring the quarterback from the edge.

No Title

No Description

With a needed bye week prior to their week seven game at the 49ers, the Cowboys should be in position to make the right decision and start a healthy Sean Lee alongside Anthony Hitchens moving forward. Appearing in his first game of the season on Sunday, Hitchens saw 50 snaps while Jaylon played just 33.

If grading each and every play in which this Cowboys defense lined up against Aaron Rodgers, CB Jourdan Lewis and the likes of his teammates in the secondary, such as safeties Xavier Woods, Byron Jones, and Chidobe Awuzie; actually inspire hope that this unit could come together sooner rather than later.

When objectively watching Jaylon Smith, with the liability he’s created on nearly every down by failing to play through contact and hold the point of attack, the Cowboys are seeing a player that is costing them yards – and games.

Lack of continuity at the linebacker position does nothing to support an already weak defensive line in Dallas, as the strength of this front four is being lessened by these LBs. Especially with David Irving back in the mix, the Cowboys’ interior push at DT and overall ability to play the run up front should be their strength in the front seven.

In Season For Youth, Cowboys Must Make Tough Decision On Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

Instead, playing in a defense where gap integrity is everything, Jaylon Smith has struggled every time he’s in position to finish off a play with some physicality.

Not taking on blockers in the hole and disengaging with his normally active hands, Smith has also lacked the playing strength in his upper body to handle action at the NFL level so far.

All of this of course stems from Smith’s knee injury, where a partially regenerated nerve continues to hold him back.

He will still have a chance to become a dominant defensive player in this league, even if he’s not the exact Jaylon who struck fear in opponents in college.

In Season For Youth, Cowboys Must Make Tough Choice On Jaylon Smith

It is a hard sell, but there is a lot to be excited about for the Dallas Cowboys defense.

Young players are coming together in the secondary as expected, and overall health at cornerback and safety is improving ahead of the bye week.

If the goal for Marinelli’s defense is to compete this season and not hold the Cowboys’ elite offense back, they’ll improve greatly with Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens gaining familiarity together at WILL and MIKE linebacker, respectively. Jaylon Smith may be able to find a spot in the rotation at middle linebacker too, but it should not be until opposing offenses can’t exploit him down after down.

With some in Cowboys Nation already saying that this isn’t the year for America’s Team, they just might be right about #54, at least.

Tell us what you think about “In Season for Youth, Cowboys Must Make Tough Choice on Jaylon Smith” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

ADVERTISEMENT

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we’re not how you think we are. Host of “Upon Further Review” on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

Advertisement
33 Comments
  • Saul molina

    It sounds like jaylen Smith is getting a lot of the blame and they keep talking about a young defense Orlando scandrick isn’t a rookie and neither is Anthony brown and they are the main problem and then there is are linebackers smh the only bright spot is the defensive line

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      I think the bright spot has been the secondary actually, Scandrick has played well and Lewis is proving he has CB1 potential – which will help Brown as more of a natural second guy. Thank you for reading, Saul!

      • Saul molina

        Sorry it I disagree with scandrick playing well he has been our worst corner and brown should have progressed they try to put the excuse oh he is young so is Lewis and he has shown up

  • Saul molina

    And another thing I was kind of hard on my boy dak cuz I expect a lot from him cuz I know what he can do but he played really good

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      Dak is far from the problem here, he’s the main reason for hope that this can get fixed quickly.

      • Saul molina

        I’ll agree as of this passed game he played his ass off it was his best game he had been struggling but he came through most of the defense is our problem

  • Wayne Young

    Completely agree with this. If you just watch Jaylon Smith and nobody else on defense, you can clearly see that he is unsure of himself while out there and has been out of place numerous times. He’s had opportunities to stop the RB for limited yards or no gains and he’s missed tackles entirely. In pass coverage he’s repeatedly getting beat and usually it’s just his guy blowing right by him. He’s shown flashes of what he can and hopefully will become, but right now he needs more time to develop and needs his snaps reduced. I think next year he’ll be more impactful with all of the experience he’s gained this year alone and hopefully he can get stronger in the offseason. And everyone keeps complaining about the secondary but for a bunch of rookies they’ve actually done quite well. Just like with Jaylon, they just need time to develop. They will be better than what they had with Mo, Carr, and Wilcox. People just need to be patient.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      Wayne, excellent thoughts here. Thank you for reading. Next year could very well be the year for Jaylon, and it is significant that they’ve already gotten him on the field this season. I also agree that the secondary will hit on their full potential.

    • Tyler Vieira

      Bunch of haters foreal expecting so much out of a player that just came back from a major injury. You people know that he is leading the team in tackles. this his first year playing with pros he wasnt even supposed to be tha starter this season. the best player on the team when hes on the field in my eyes is sean lee and he has been injured and so has hitchens. Jaylon Smith was our second round pick and this is his second year on the team give him a year or 2 and he will be one of our best players

  • Corey

    DE Taco Charlton hasn’t been the pass rusher they expected him to be either. They were talking about sitting him in favor of DE Charles Tapper, but with Tapper now hurt it looks like Charlton is it. I like this kid, and hopefully he will start to come around, but as far as this season, I’m afraid it is a lost season. Zeke is distracted by this suspension b.s. you can see it the way he has run lately. He can’t help but not be distracted you know it weighs on his mind. The problem is not only LB Jaylen Smith hurting this team there are a number of players not performing, and then there is the mess with all of this protest crap. The year is a total loss for me.

    • joe conery

      on point on Charlton.
      If Zeke wasn’t hit in the backfield so often, I’d say it’s distraction, but he’s looking at multiple defenders in the backfield these days. It’s like Demarco Murray before we got the good O line.

      • Corey

        Very true you do have a point. They need to settle the OG position

        • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

          I believe they like Chaz Green as the backup OT, which is why we’re not seeing him risk injury and start at LG over Cooper, who is hurting this running game. Thank you guys for reading!

  • John Mcgilvery

    The kid is good. Just look at his tape from ND. He was as instinctive and ferocious as any linebacker I’ve ever seen from sideline to sideline. But having him play this much is good and bad. Good because he gets to see and feel what an NFL ass kicking feels like and learn what to do to try to prevent that from happening under tutelage from Sean Lee. Bad because he’s gonna take a lot of heat for not playing well despite just coming off of a major reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation. I say give him a break.

    The Cowboys were in one of the worst positions to be in for the last draft- 1st overall seed and get knocked out early. So with that you can’t expect plug and play rookies like Fournette. Probably not this season but next season all theses youngsters will be ready. Chido, Lewis, Taco, and Jaylen Smith.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      John, thank you so much for reading. Your thoughts here on Jaylon Smith the football player are spot on. What makes this so tough, as I wrote in the title, is that the team is indeed committed to a lot of young guys right now and its tough not including him in the mix. He’s simply not ready but will have a chance to hit that potential very soon, we hope.

  • https://InsideTheStar.com/ Bryson Treece

    I’ve seen Jaylon’s struggles, just like you, but I also see Hitchens on that injury report. Had he remained healthy, we wouldn’t have seen so much of Jaylon already, and now that Hitch is back, I expect to see him consistently have more snaps than Jaylon. Lack of depth at the position has been the primary reason we’ve seen so much of Smith, and that’s trying to get better now. Less pressure on Smith will be good, for him and the team.

  • midair

    I am tired of all the excuses. The defense is not very good and will not be very good for awhile. Can’t scheme for inferior play.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      They’re playing a ton of young guys, need to give them a shot.

  • billy jack

    this was a waste of a pick. How do you pick a guy with the second pick who had injury like that. they could of gotten in the fourth round. cowboys act like they had pick to waste what a stupid move

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      There is more reason than ever to think that the pick will pay off, but it is hard to disagree that it is still currently not a waste. Getting him on the field was critical. We’ve seen Jaylon Smith play football now. That mythical part of this if you will is over with, now its time to evaluate his poor play and make a decision.

  • Anthony Ceniccola

    this is basically a rookie year for JS, and id bet that his knee is on his mind every time he makes a cut or move towards a play or tackle. i agree that after this experience and whatever he progresses through within this year (hopefully with no setbacks) then his talents will hopefully reemerge next season. i dont think i can give up on him or his high ceiling, just taking the realistic approach to his story and eventual full circle to recovery.

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      Very well said Anthony, I agree completely. Thank you for reading and responding!

  • joe conery

    Dak’s and Zeke’s problem has largely been the gameplan.
    When there’s 7-8 on the line eyeing Zeke, he’s not going to gain yards.
    You need to pass. We’re trying to still force the run on this situation eg on 1st downs and we’re getting behind the sticks. We need to adjust and let our pass set up our run right now.

    We finally started running Dez on my slants and posts this week and that showed dividends…You’ve got to do more than just run him up the sideline for a jump ball.

    Passing the Witten on deeper routes was better too as he just doesn’t have the run after the catch stuff anymore. Same with Beasley.

    When we’re spying a guy like Rogers, I don’t know why we didn’t put in an extra safety and use him. How many times does Rogers have to outrun out lineman and LBs before we figure out that our spy needs more speed. There was no need to worry about a running play up the middle.

  • joe conery

    Also I’ve seen way too much of Dak as strictly a dropback passer…Stop!
    We don’t need to use him like RGIII, but we need to roll him out a bit more. We need to have the threat of him. He’ll open the gaps for zeke, witten and beasley….The finally did that on the TD play.

    • E Deplorabus Unum

      Problem is how can you gameplan when the other team knows your guy can only pass when rolling out? You effectively take away half of the field and routes when he rolls out. I agree he performs better there, but what a liability as opposed to a pocket passer. Roll right and the defense just has to defend 2/3 of the field…

  • Tyler

    Another problem is jaylon smith played olb in college once we get lee back we can move Jaylon back to olb

    • https://InsideTheStar.com Sean Martin

      He played plenty of MIKE at Notre Dame.

      • Tyler

        But with him being slow and Lee at MIKE They should put Smith at Olb where he doesn’t have to defend the pass as much and can read more plays

  • John Arcona

    You guys are missing the big picture here. Smith is missing alot of gap protection and his versatility is not what it once was. Besides that the bigger picture is our safety he’s he needs to go. He has to go back to his original spot on the team and Xavier needs to come in. On that last touchdown against Green Bay to Davante Adams there was no over the top helped by Heath whatsoever against all rookie and Rogers did exactly what Rogers is supposed to do. On the scramble Will Rogers ran for 20-something yards on third down towards the end of the game where was Heath he was again not in the picture and no where to be found on that side of the field in his coverage. We did a poor job as a team in the offseason addressing our concerns. Our cornerbacks will be fine they’re still developing but Scandrick needs to step up and Anthony brownies to show us what Anthony Brown did towards last year’s end of season. Until then we don’t fix these issues we will not go no better than 6 and 10 maybe 7 and 9.

  • golfhacker

    What is the love affair with Scandrick all about? Scandrick is mediocre, nothing more, nothing less. Heath may as well play without arms.

  • Andre Wilson

    I blame the coaching staffs for alot of the team’s struggles. The DC doesn’t bring enough pressure and the Tampa 2 doesn’t work with the roster we have and the OC doesn’t understand clock management or how to utilize Dez

  • Adam Mwakikoti

    Blaming Jaylen?!? SHIT “article”

  • EverybodyTalks

    It seems that Dallas forgot it’s plan to bring JS along slowly. Plans change when you lose Hitchens and Lee. Now that they both are returning, I think Dallas will go back to their original plan of gradually bringing Jaylon into the line-up. This is not the year of Jaylon or Taco..2018 and 2019 are more realistic. They are rookies this year. It really is that simple. If anyone needs more reps, it’s Taco. If anyone needs less reps it’s Jaylon. He isn’t 100%, but was getting 60/70 plays ~ way to many for anyone. Footnote based on some earlier comments —IMHO ~ The 2 best CBs are the rookies ~ Xavier Woods and Jourdan Lewis. Still, I think stopping the run is the main problem. We need the front seven nailing that down, like last year.

Star Blog

Is 3-3 Without Ezekiel Elliott A Win For Dallas?

Kevin Brady

Published

on

Cowboys 2017 Roster Projection: Preseason Week 2
Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s funny how quickly perception can change in the NFL.

A little over two weeks ago, the sky was falling on the Dallas Cowboys. They had just been blown out three straight times, twice at home and twice against direct NFC playoff competitors. Cowboys Nation wanted firings – whether that meant head coach Jason Garrett, Scott Linehan, Rod Marinelli, or all of the above.

Dak Prescott couldn’t survive without Ezekiel Elliott, and all of the change made to the defense was beginning to be called a failure by the masses.

Fast forward to this week. The Cowboys have now been the deliverers of butt-kickings the last two weeks, and now sit at 7-6 with an outside chance at a playoff spot. And while the team looked like a complete mess without Elliott previously, a win Sunday would put them at 3-3 over the course of the Pro Bowl running back’s suspension.

And is that really all that bad?

Heading into the suspension, most fans probably would’ve taken 3-3 without Elliott and 8-6 overall. Most fans would’ve though that would put the Cowboys right in the thick of the things in the NFC playoff hunt. And most would’ve assumed we’d be happy with an 8-6 Cowboys team.

Unfortunately, 8-6 most likely won’t be good enough in this year’s playoff race. Especially considering the return of Aaron Rodgers and previous losses to both the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons. Plus, the entire NFC South has been fantastic this season (besides Tampa Bay) and two teams from the West look legit as well.

So maybe this just isn’t the Cowboys’ year. But, the success of other teams in the conference shouldn’t cloud our perception of what the Cowboys have done this season if they were to win Sunday night. A win over the Raiders this week would qualify the team’s handling of the Elliott suspension as a “success” of sorts (in terms of on the field, at least) in my opinion.

They would have kept themselves alive in a deep NFC playoff race, discovered a legitimate offensive weapon in Rod Smith, maintained a solid rushing attack over the majority of the six games, and allowed for some real growth from their young quarterback Dak Prescott.

I know the first three games of the suspension were awful, and a team with the talent of the Cowboys shouldn’t be losing that way three times in a row, or three times in a season at all. But, something should be said about how the team has weathered that storm, and kept themselves above water in this competitive conference.

But, of course, the result Sunday night could change all of this if the Cowboys come out and lay an egg in Oakland, effectively ending their season before Zeke even gets back. In that case we will more vividly remember the three horrific losses in which the team was out-coached and embarrassed. But, still those games should be remembered regardless of Sunday’s outcome.

So maybe success is a bit of a strong word.

This week’s game is not only a huge one in terms of the 2017 playoff race, but also may be an important one for determining what the 2018 Cowboys will look like.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Star Blog

Do We Know What The 2017 Dallas Cowboys Are Capable Of?

Mauricio Rodriguez

Published

on

Cowboys 2017 Roster Projection: Training Camp Begins

For the Dallas Cowboys, the playoffs have begun a bit earlier. After putting themselves in a tough position, they need to win out in order to have a shot at playing in January… and even then, they need a ton of outside help to make it.

Less than a year ago, we saw the Cowboys become the #1 seed in the conference with a 13-3 record under rookie QB Dak Prescott. So naturally, it’s fair to say that the fact that after 14 weeks the record of this football team is 7-6 is very disappointing.

Some have even questioned, are they even worthy of being a playoffs team? 

Despite suffering from some key injuries and well… suspensions, the Cowboys shouldn’t be left off the hook. Players and coaches should be blamed. But even still, it’s hard to believe that Dallas wouldn’t have win at least one more game with Tyron Smith, Sean Lee or Ezekiel Elliott available.

Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott Long-Term?

I’m convinced that if Zeke hadn’t been suspended, the Cowboys would at least have one more win. If that were the case, we probably wouldn’t be suffering thinking about what combinations would get our favorite team in the postseason.

All of this makes me wonder… Do we know what this team is capable of? 

I think not. Let’s take a quick look at the games Dallas has lost this year.

  • @ DEN Broncos 
  • vs LA Rams (No Sean Lee, Cowboys’ defense allowed 35 points)
  • vs GB Packers (No Sean Lee, Cowboys’ defense allowed 28 points)
  • @ ATL Falcons (No Tyron Smith, no Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys scored seven points)
  • vs PHI Eagles (No Tyron Smith, no Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys scored nine points)
  • vs LA Chargers (No Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys scored six points)

I believe in the “next man up” mentality. But not when you’re talking about going from Tyron Smith, who is arguably the best LT in the league to Chaz Green and Byron Bell. Sure, the coaching staff should’ve made a change earlier when Green was getting Dak killed, but Bell wasn’t much better.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make excuses for this football team at all. In fact, it’s the same thing when you take a look at wins. Through 14 weeks, the Cowboys have just been able to beat one NFL team with a winning record: The Kansas City Chiefs. The thing is, despite being 7-6, the Chiefs are 2-8 since week 6. I’m not sure I’d qualify that as a winning team.

We haven’t seen this team face a strong, winning opponent and actually beat them. The Cowboys have one more game to win without Zeke, and then they’ll be on to face the Seattle Seahawks. If Dallas gets to that game with an 8-6 record, the outcome of the Seattle game could define the Cowboys’ 2017 season.

With Ezekiel Elliott, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith all ready to go, it’d be the first time this year we see the Cowboys go against a quality opponent with all of their star players. Will this defining game come too late? Perhaps. It’s no secret that the Cowboys need a ton of outside help in order to get into the playoffs with 10-6 record.

Dallas Cowboys Wishlist At Denver Broncos 1

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten #82, QB Dak Prescott #4. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

But at least, it’d be nice to see our team at least doing the job they can control and winning out. Even if it’d be painful to see them go 10-6 and still miss the playoffs… as fans, we probably want to see them doing their job.

For now though, it’s all about the Oakland Raiders. One more week without Ezekiel Elliott. After surviving a trap game against the Giants, the Cowboys must do the same again as they prepare to face a football team that has also been disappointing this season but still has dangerous play-makers, such as Derek Carr.

And then, we might find out just how good the 2017 Dallas Cowboys really are.

Tell me what you think about “Do We Know What The 2017 Dallas Cowboys Are Capable Of?” 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!

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Star Blog

Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott Long-Term?

Brian Martin

Published

on

Should Cowboys Be Concerned About Ezekiel Elliott's Future?

It’s funny how quickly some players are able to establish themselves as professional athletes and grow their fan base. That is exactly what Ezekiel Elliott has done in just a little over a years time since becoming a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, given his current situation, it’s that fan base that might be starting to turn on him a little and doubt his long-term future in the NFL.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are fully aware of the six-game suspension the NFL slapped Ezekiel Elliott with based on nothing more than accusations of possible domestic violence. Right or wrong, guilty or innocent, it happened and there is no taking it back. But unfortunately, because of the suspension Elliott will now have to walk the straight and narrow if he wants to have any kind of career in the NFL.

I honestly don’t think Ezekiel Elliott is a bad guy, but the slightest slip up will more than likely put his career in jeopardy. It doesn’t matter how big or small the infraction, the NFL has already decided they are going to make an example of him.

RB Ezekiel ElliottFrom here on out, Elliott is going to have to live like he is under a magnifying glass. Any kind of slip up, big or small, will likely cause the league to suspend him an entire season. This unfortunately has been weighing on the minds of a lot of Cowboys Nation and has to be at least a little bit concerning for the Cowboys organization.

You see, the Dallas Cowboys have Elliott under contract for at least three more years after this season. He has already proven how important he is to the offense and how much production dips without him in the lineup. They absolutely want him on the field because he makes them better. But, any kind of slip up would pretty much erase one of those three years. Look no further than what has happened with Randy Gregory.

I’ve heard many fans voicing their concerns about Ezekiel Elliott’s long-term availability with the Cowboys. They are afraid Elliott’s immaturity will end up getting the best of him and Zeke unfortunately has done nothing to ease those concerns so far.

I for one am not all that concerned about Zeke’s future in the NFL. I think his six-game suspension has served as an eye-opening experience and that he will do better from here on out to put himself in better situations and surround himself with better/more trustworthy people.

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel ElliottYou can see anytime Zeke is on the field his passion for the game and how much he enjoys it. I don’t think he’s going to put something he cares so much about in jeopardy. But unfortunately, he already has a bull’s-eye on his back and can’t afford to take a misstep. That will without a doubt put his future career in jeopardy.

I personally can’t wait to see how #21 responds when he is able to suit up once again next week against the Seattle Seahawks. I think he is going to play with a chip on his shoulder and run angry. That is the best way he can stick it to the league for suspending him based on accusations and another reason why I’m not concerned about his future in the NFL.

I know if it was me, my mindset would be to turn myself into the best player possible and once again become one of the more popular athletes in the league. That is about the only way he can say “F U” to the league, and I think that’s exactly what he will do.

Are you concerned about Ezekiel Elliott long-term?

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Reader Survey

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.

> Take the survey now

Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).

Advertisement

From Our Partners

Advertisement
Enjoy 40% commissions on officially licensed products as a FanPrint affiliate. You can even make your own, fully licensed Cowboys and player designs! Get started here

Trending