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Tyron Smith’s Future Health Creates Red Flags Along Cowboys OL

Brian Martin

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Life without your starting left tackle isn’t something an NFL team wants to go through at any point in the season. The Dallas Cowboys know this all too well after having to play the last two games without their All-Pro LT Tyron Smith.

The left tackle is arguably the most important position for any team, with the exception of quarterback. The LT is responsible for protecting the blindside of the QB and keeping them upright and healthy. That is why they are drafted so highly and are some of the top paid players in the league.

The Dallas Cowboys of course have arguably the best blindside protector in the NFL, which makes replacing him even that much more difficult. Tyron Smith has had to miss the last two games due to injuries and it is increasingly obvious just how important he is to have in the lineup.

Despite having two other All-Pro offensive lineman, the Dallas Cowboys offensive line really struggled against the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles without Tyron Smith in the lineup. They couldn’t get the running game going in either contest and Dak Prescott was forced to run for his life.

QB Dak PrescottNow, Tyron Smith will recover from the soft-tissue problems he’s been having these last few weeks, but prior to these issues he was fighting through back problem that caused him to miss practice time this season. This is the same back issue he had last season causing him to miss games, which puts his future health in question and raises a few red flags for the entire Cowboys offensive line.

How many players around the NFL have we seen forced into early retirement because of their back problems. Tony Romo is the latest Cowboys player, but if Tyron Smith can’t find a solution to his reoccurring back problems, he could join his former QB.

This is something that the Dallas Cowboys staff really should be concerned about. This team doesn’t have someone who can step in for Tyron Smith and it’s never been as obvious as it is now based on the last two games.

Unfortunately, starting caliber left tackles don’t grow on trees. They are extremely difficult to to find, which is why they are drafted so highly and paid so extravagantly. That is why I believe the best solution is to go ahead and draft a starting caliber tackle capable playing on the either side, much like Tyron Smith did early in his career.

LT Tyron SmithYou see, drafting another tackle could solve all the problems with the Dallas Cowboys offensive line. The weak link on the Cowboys OL right now is the left guard position, but I think that gets solved by drafting a versatile tackle as well.

The first thing I would do is kick La’el Collins back inside to left guard. I think this is his best position, even though he has performed really well at right tackle this year. I would then insert the newly versatile tackle on the right side. This solidifies and upgrades the entire OL for the Cowboys.

Of course, having another versatile tackle capable of playing on either side provides insurance in case Tyron Smith continues to have reoccurring injuries. The Cowboys could always move the new rookie to the left side and Collins back to RT.

I understand that is a lot of shuffling, but with so many versatile linemen at the Cowboys disposal, they are more than capable of making these kind of moves. It’s not the ideal way to handle things, but it’s better than the options the Cowboys currently have.

Do you think Tyron Smith’s future health is a concern?

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Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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16 Comments
  • Bill_In_NC

    I haven’t heard anything about what the problem actually is with Tyron’s back. It’s hard to imagine that off season surgery (like Demarcus Lawrence) would not be an option. I don’t know of too many back issues that just ‘get better’ on their own.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m not sure exactly what the problem is either. But one thing is for sure, the need to try some way to get it fixed.

  • Albert Smith

    Off-season surgery should’ve been done a couple of years ago therapy isn’t working, get it taken care of so that it’s no longer an issue.

    • Brian Martin

      It depends on what the actual problem is. Surgery could make it worse and it could just be a tolerance thing. I don’t know for sure, but something likely needs to be done.

      • Albert Smith

        He either has lumbar a strain or a lumbar spine arthritis which are the main contributors for back stiffness. That’s been the issue he’s been dealing with, so it would be a lot better to really be shut down for an elongated period of time meaning more than a couple of weeks or every Wednesday that doesn’t seem to be working and considering how things are looking you might want to bring up Kellen Moore up and shut down your key guys have a another good draft and move forward from there.

        • Brian Martin

          I don’t see the Cowboys throwing in the towel and sitting there starters. I think they will continue to fight, even if there is an much hope of reaching the playoffs.

      • Brady101

        I understand it’s a severe pinched nerve which runs that numbs his foot and toes..

        • Brian Martin

          There are a lot of conflicting reports about Smith’s injury. I honestly don’t know what the truth is. Hopefully it’s just a matter of rest and he can get back to 100%

  • Randy Martin

    While I have been doing mocks drafts for a month or more I don’t know how many “can’t miss” LT’s there are in this draft. The two biggest names Connor Williams, Texas and Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame seem to be the most highly touted but as you know, LT is a building block, and depending on draft position, they could be gone. I think we have two other pressing needs in LB and WR so I think our 1st rounder needs to be spent on one of those positions. Of course, it kind of depends on what we do with Lawrence and Irving. It’s a good thing we have 11 draft picks as we need as many chances as possible to plug the dam!

    • Brian Martin

      You’re right that LB and WR are probably higher priorities. But, I think LG and possibly T aren’t far behind. The tackle position is only a concern if Smith’s back issues are cleared up. I’m really starting to look forward to the draft already. I think I enjoy that more than the actual season LOL

    • Albert Smith

      The tackle class is much more thinner than last years draft class, more depth at guard.

      • Brian Martin

        That’s what I’m hearing. I haven’t started studying players yet for next year’s draft.

  • TreFKennedy88

    Tyron’s back has been an issue since 2015-16 season, it should have been taken care of at that time

    • Brian Martin

      If the Cowboys end up being out of the playoff race, I would shut down Tyron Smith. He’s too valuable to the team and needs to get healthy.

  • Russ_Te

    Smith may have some good years left, but even if so Dallas has no solution behind him for OT, and that one fact has blown this season up. So, yep it’s probably top draft priority > OT, RDE, WR / best available 1st round.

    Keep in mind that finding a quality LG is do-able / both Nate Newton and Ronald Leary were UFA walk-ons. So I keep trying there before moving Collins back to LG. Unless I hit on a project OT first.

    Now Then: Let’s look at whether it was a deft f’ing idea to play Green and then Bell at LT when Smith went out. Offensive coaches know those guys do not have lateral OT movement, sufficient to guard Dak’s blind side. Other moves? I’m flipping Collins over there first and Green or Bell to the less risk-prone RT spot.

    Pretty sure Zack Martin can play OT also. I probably also would have done that and put Green in his spot, as a stopgap until Smith gets back.

    Thanks Garrett, for making no adjustments when your team needs them. Butler, Gathers, Switzer – same thing. No new options in the route trees, when your starters are not getting open and Dak is getting killed. It’s rather clear now that defenses have solved the present passing-game model. They are have no problem stopping it. You have to change some of it out.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m only moving Collins if the Cowboys draft a tackle who can start right away. Otherwise, I’m keeping him at RT. I don’t think Collins would fare any better on the left side unfortunately.

Player News

Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat

The Cowboys have just one more game to get through without their star running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Alfred Morris and Rod Smith deserve a ton of credit for the way they’ve been able to fill in out of the backfield for Zeke Elliott. Throughout the time Elliott has missed though, the Cowboys have lacked the explosive plays on offense that he can provide – until Rod Smith was given an opportunity last week at the Giants.

Smith complimented Morris exceptionally well, running with quickness and power to prove his case for more of a role on offense behind Elliott moving forward. It was the Ohio State product’s consecutive touchdowns of 81 yards through the air and 15 yards on the ground that sealed the game for the Cowboys in week 14.

Here is a closer look at Rod Smith’s performance from last week in this latest Sean’s Scout.

Smith3 – Streamable

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

 

The Cowboys offensive line was dominant as always against a tough New York defensive front, and this first play is a great look at their execution in space and on the move. Rod Smith’s decisiveness when hitting the hole with speed and balance was the first thing I noticed on the game tape.

The best thing Smith does on this play comes at the second level, where running backs can truly make a difference in Dallas. As RG Zack Martin rides his man out of the play entirely, he gets in front of Smith who is seeing the play develop straight ahead. With his long strides, Smith is able to smoothly get through traffic and continue accelerating up field through arm tackles for a big gain.

Smith2 – Streamable

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

 

These same traits are seen with Rod Smith as a pass catcher – something he does effortlessly to also help fill the void left by Elliott. Watch how quickly Smith commits to his angle up the field after catching this dump pass from Dak Prescott, attacking a defender that has the angle on him after the catch.

Rod subtly leans to the right just enough to make the defender hesitate long enough to allow his burst to evade him and gain extra yards falling forward.

Smith4 – Streamable

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

 

Smith essentially does the same thing without the ball in his hands here, on his 81 yard catch and run for a touchdown. Setting up the safety out of the slot to be beat across his face, Smith separates from him at the stem and then does a great job getting depth on his route into the vacated middle of the field. With blockers to help him reach the end zone, Smith turns this busted coverage by the Giants into the game’s biggest play.

Smith1 – Streamable

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

 

This last play I chose to show is probably the least well-blocked attempt for Smith out of the ones in this Sean’s Scout, but there is still a lot to like about what Rod does here with the ball in his hands.

The Giants might be a two-win football team, but they still have marquee players up front, particularly DE Olivier Vernon. Smith does well here to keep his feet moving as he cuts this play to the backside. Vernon does well to limit the potential gain on this play by staying away from the block of Jason Witten, as Smith is taken down by Darian Thompson.

The numbers the Giants had to commit to stopping the run was still a huge reason why Prescott had a career day throwing the football, and Rod Smith’s readiness to step in at RB was a deciding factor in getting Dallas to 7-6.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Proving to be one of the Dallas Cowboys most valuable players, considering his cost (under contract through 2018), and ability to contribute on special teams and offense, Rod Smith is the perfect RB3 for this team.

Smith is not elite in any one area, and is not a prototypical RB from a physical standpoint, but his contributions as a runner, pass catcher, and blocker could remain critical to the Cowboys’ hopes of reaching the playoffs behind this offense – even when Ezekiel Elliott is back in the fold.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: RB Rod Smith Proving Valuable Offensive Threat” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who’s The Cowboys Real RB1?

Brian Martin

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Rod Smith Vs Alfred Morris: Who's Cowboys' Real RB1?

The Dallas Cowboys are less than a week away from welcoming back their talented Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott, but until then they still have a game to play against the Oakland Raiders. That means we will have one more week of Alfred Morris and Rod Smith handling the workload, but which RB is sitting at the top of the Cowboys depth chart?

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of decision that can end up winning or losing a game. Both Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have had their moments during Ezekiel Elliott’s absence, but neither one of them have really distanced themselves from the other. So, should Rod Smith or Alfred Morris receive the majority of the workload against the Raiders Sunday?

A Case for Rod Smith

RB Rod Smith and QB Dak PrescottRod Smith might just have had is coming out party last week against the New York Giants. Against their divisional rival, in what was a must win game for the Cowboys, Smith rushed for 47 yards on six carries and added another 113 yards through the air on five catches. He also found himself in the end zone twice, once on a rushing touchdown and the other on a receiving touchdown.

You may or may not agree, but I believe that “Lightning” Rod Smith was largely responsible for igniting the Cowboys offense and helping them pull away from the Giants last Sunday. He accounted for over 160 total yards and two touchdowns by himself and didn’t receive the majority of his playing time until later in the game.

Rod Smith certainly has traits that make him a more desirable RB over Alfred Morris. First off, he is a more complete back. He is better in pass protection and at catching the ball out of the backfield. But, he is also starting to show up in the running game and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry this season. His size (6’3″, 235) also makes him a better short yardage back, although I wish he would deliver more of a blow at the end of his runs.

A Case for Alfred Morris

RB Alfred MorrisAlthough there’s nothing particularly special that stands out about Alfred Morris, he has proven time and time again he is more than capable of carrying the workload. He has received the majority of the workload during Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and has performed pretty well. In fact, he is averaging 5 yards a carry this season, which is better than any other RB on the Cowboys roster, including Elliott.

Alfred Morris has looked pretty good this season and is playing with more of a spring in his step than I have seen from him in probably his entire career. Last Sunday against the Giants he received the the majority of the workload and finished the game with 19 carries for 62 yards. Not particularly spectacular, but the week prior he did rush for 127 yards on 27 carries in the victory over the Washington Redskins.

Like I mentioned earlier, Morris is a tried-and-true RB in the NFL and is at his best when he can continue to pound the rock and wear down opposing defenses. That is what he did against the Redskins, but he has his limitations as well. Despite his years in the league, he still struggles in pass protection and is limited in what he can do in the passing game. But, he does seem to have the trust of the Cowboys coaching staff.

✭✭✭✭✭

Personally, I would like to see more of Rod Smith this coming Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. I really like what I’ve seen from him in both the running game and in the passing game. I just think he is a more dangerous and versatile weapon then Alfred Morris. His presence on the field really opens up what the Cowboys can do offensively.

I don’t mean any disrespect to Alfred Morris at all. I just think that Rod Smith has proven he is a more dangerous offensive weapon of the two. I don’t know if the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff will agree or not, but I truly believe Rod Smith could once again be the X factor against the Oakland Raiders.

Of course, both Rod Smith and Alfred Morris will have to take the back seat once Ezekiel Elliott returns. So, this discussion really only has any credibility for this week in yet another must win situation against the Oakland Raiders.

Who do you like better… Rod Smith or Alfred Morris?

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La’el Collins’ Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise

Brian Martin

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La'el Collins' Toughness And Availability Earning High Praise 1

The decision by the Dallas Cowboys to move La’el Collins from left guard to right tackle was met by some skepticism by quite a few members of Cowboys Nation during the off-season. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of those skeptical of the move, but I’m not afraid to admit he has exceeded my expectations.

In all honesty, I always believed that La’el Collins’ best position in the NFL is on the interior of the offense of line as a guard. I thought he could use his strength and athleticism to his advantage when working in a phone booth against slower and less athletic defensive tackles. That’s not to say I didn’t think he would make a good right tackle, I just thought he had Pro Bowl potential as a guard.

Strangely enough, Collins has probably put together a Pro Bowl caliber season in his first season starting at the right tackle position for the Cowboys. He has become an upgrade over the previous starter Doug Free, and is really starting to earn high praise from the brass. Stephen Jones in particular has been impressed with Collins, especially considering how he has played after missing two full weeks of practice.

Mark Lane on Twitter

DallasCowboys COO Stephen Jones told @1053thefan La’el Collins has answered the bell after his contract extension.

I personally agree with everything Stephen Jones said about La’el Collins. I’ve really enjoyed watching his progression this season, but I have been really impressed how he played the last two weeks after missing so much practice.

You might not of known, but Collins has missed two full weeks of practice due to a herniated disc in his back. This is put his availability to play against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants in jeopardy, but somehow he has toughened up and played considerably well.

This unfortunately will be something he has to continue to battle through the rest of the season, but I’m not going to bet against him playing. He absolutely makes this offensive line better and I would hate to see Chaz Green or Byron Bell back on the field after the way they played as feel-ins.

La’el Collins has without a doubt earned my respect and I think it’s about time we all recognize the player he is turning into. I know the Dallas Cowboys appreciate all that he does and believe that his recent contract extension is money well spent.

What do you think about La’el Collins?

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