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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?



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.

Dallas Cowboys

Jaguars Waive Barry Church; Could Cowboys Bring Him Back?

Jess Haynie

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Barry Church

Veteran safety Barry Church was released today by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Could he return home to the Dallas Cowboys, where he spent his first seven seasons?

Despite his leadership and consistency on defense, Dallas allowed Church to leave in free agency when Jacksonville gave him a lucrative deal. But if he clears waivers, could the Cowboys consider bring him back for depth and support during their likely playoff run?

Jane Slater of the NFL Network reported on this potential reunion:

Jane Slater on Twitter

Cowboys haven't reached out to S Barry Church but I'm told they are discussing the possibility of bringing him back to Dallas according to a source informed. Church, 30, was released by the Jags today and is familiar with the system having played there from 2010-2016.

The Cowboys have had solid play from their current starting safeties, Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. Neither is a star, but the duo has not been a liability during the team's current five-game winning streak.

Church was a similar player, reliable if never exceptional, during his time in Dallas. He could be a nice insurance policy for the playoffs if something happened to one of the starters.

Barry knows the system. He never played for Kris Richard, but he was with Rod Marinelli for three seasons before leaving in free agency.

According to reports out of Jacksonville, Church is being released because the team wants to go with younger, cheaper players now that their season is over. There is no known injury keeping Barry from playing.

Of course, Dallas would have to make room on the roster to pick Church up. They could third-year prospect Darian Thompson, who is the current fourth man at safety.

Barry Church must now go through the 24-hour waiver process. A team may claim him, including the Cowboys. We'll see what the future holds.



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Dallas Cowboys

How the Dallas Cowboys Can Win the NFC East This Week

Jess Haynie

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Jaylon Smith, Eagles

It's only Week 15, but the Dallas Cowboys could become the 2018 NFC East Champions this week through a couple of scenarios. I thought we'd take a moment today to break down how the Boys can win their division and assure their spot in the playoffs.

With three weeks left in the regular season, most of the divisional games have already been played. The only two left to play are the Week 17 finales; Cowboys at Giants and Eagles at Redskins.

Here are the current standings:

  1. Dallas Cowboys 8-5 (4-1 in division)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles 6-7 (3-2 in division)
  3. Washington Redskins 6-7 (2-3 in division)
  4. New York Giants 5-8 (1-4 in division)

The Giants have been scrappy lately, winning four of their last five, but it's too late for them to try to win the division. Even if the Cowboys were to fall to 8-8, the best New York could do is tie them in overall record. They would have also split their head-to-head series, negating that tiebreaker.

At that point, it would come down to the record within the division. New York would improve to 2-4 with a win over Dallas in Week 17, but the Cowboys would still be 4-2 against the NFC East. Dallas would still be the division champion.

So, that knocks out New York. Technically, the Eagles and Redskins are still alive. But their margin is about as slim as it gets.

Both Philadelphia and Washington need the Cowboys to lose their last three games, and then to also win out themselves, to steal the NFC East crown.

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Thankful for Cooper in Division Win Over Redskins

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper

For the Redskins, it's about their record against division opponents. The best they can finish is 3-3, assuming they'd win their last game against the Eagles. With the head-to-head series against Dallas split this year, they would have to finish 9-7 overall and have the Cowboys drop to 8-8 to become NFC East Champions.

The Eagles also need to finish one game ahead of Dallas, but for a different reason. Philadelphia lost both their games with the Cowboys this year, so Dallas has the head-to-head tiebreaker.

So that really makes thing simple for Dallas; win just one of your last three games and you're the division champion.

Not only that, but even if Dallas were to fall this week against the Indianapolis Colts, they could still clinch the division with losses by the Eagles (@ Rams) and Redskins (@ Jaguars).

It would certainly behoove the Cowboys to get the division locked up now. They could then use the last two weeks of the season to get ready for the playoffs.

Dallas would have the freedom rest banged up players like Ezekiel Elliott and Zack Martin. It would also allow them to work in returning players such as Sean Lee and Tavon Austin and figure out their new rotations without pressure to win.

Beating the Colts on Sunday isn't a given; they're at home and desperate to stay alive in the AFC playoff picture. They are the toughest opponent Dallas has left until January.

But despite that, with the Eagles facing a juggernaut team and Washington trying to play football without a quarterback, there's a great chance that the Cowboys will be the NFC East Champions by Sunday night.



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#INDvsDAL: How The Game May Be Decided In The Red Zone

Kevin Brady

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Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In many ways the Dallas Cowboys offense has found their stride in recent weeks. Over this five game win streak they have "found their identity" playing ball control offense and trusting their quarterback to make big throws when needed most. Of course the defense has been the star most weeks, but this offense should not be slept on either.

This doesn't mean the offense has been without their fair share of struggles, however, particularly in the red zone. Struggles that the numbers say could cost the Cowboys this weeks' game in Indianapolis if they don't get it cleaned up.

In terms of red zone offensive efficiency the Cowboys have been downright horrendous. In fact, they are dead-last in the league in success rate inside the 10 yard line, last in first-and-goal success rate, and 21st in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

There's no sugar-coating those numbers, they are bad. Especially when you consider that this team has arguably the league's best running back and a quarterback with the size and athleticism you might expect from a linebacker.

For as bad as the Cowboys are inside the red zone, the Colts are equally as good. Indianapolis is top 10 in terms of success rate inside the 10, at the goal line, and in first-and-goal success rate. They are also 11th in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

Despite not having the individual running back the Cowboys have, the Colts offensive line and skill players as a whole set them up a bit better when the field is shortened. Tight end Eric Ebron has been rather incredible in terms of production this season, catching 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions. Andrew Luck is also a more accurate quarterback than Dak Prescott, though Prescott should be a much more dangerous red zone threat than he currently is.

Bob Sturm on Twitter

I am working on the Cowboys 32nd ranked Goal-to-Go offensive numbers. They have run 35 of their 59 total plays out of Shotgun-11 Personnel. In those 35 plays, the average gain per snap is....12 INCHES. I am not kidding. They could out-gain that by running QB sneaks. I am amazed.

Of course, some of the Cowboys red zone struggles can be pinned on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has failed to scheme open the "easy" red zone touchdowns we see so often around the league. As pointed out by Bob Sturm on Twitter this week, the Cowboys' personnel groupings and play calls when in goal-to-go situations have been questionable to say the least. But while blame does fall on the coaches' shoulders, the players need to execute better as well.

Games in the NFL often come down to just a handful of plays, and red zone efficiency plays a key role in deciding the outcome of close games every week. If this is once again the case on Sunday, based on past performance, the Dallas Cowboys could be in trouble against the efficient Colts.



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