The 6-1 Dallas Cowboys are loaded with talent.
One offensive lineman in particular, however, has separated himself as clearly the best player on the Cowboys entire roster. That player is offensive tackle Tyron Smith. After spending much of the early part of the 2016 season handicapped by some injuries, Smith finally looked fully healthy in his dominant performance against the Eagles last week.
The film from week 8 clearly supports my claim that Tyron Smith is the Cowboys best player.
One of the areas Tyron Smith excelled in all day was with swiping off the defenders' hands and using their momentum against them.
When a defensive end starts leaning on the offensive tackle, trying to use his power and bull rush to win, the best thing for the tackle to do is to set his feet, keep kicking back, and then throw the end onto his face.
Here, Smith uses the defensive end's momentum against him and drives him into the ground.
Once again we see Tyron execute his counter to the bull rush perfectly. The pass rusher actually gets Tyron Smith off balance a bit, getting hands on and delivering a blow. Tyron absorbs this blow, delivers his own solid punch, hops back, and swipes the rusher to the ground.
The rusher actually tries to long-arm Smith here, and Smith makes him pay for it. This is a beautiful recovery by Smith, and a textbook way to deal with the long-arm and bull rush.
Bull rush isn't working against Tyron Smith? Why not try a spin move?
It might make sense on paper, but in practice, we see Tyron absolutely man-handle Connor Barwin when he tries to spin. Tyron stops Barwin midway through his spin while his back was still turned, and then simply tosses him into the turf.
It isn't often you see a grown man handle another grown man like this, even in the NFL. Tyron Smith is special, and his excellence continued later in the game.
When you continually stop a defenders primary and secondary rushes throughout the entire game, he ends up looking lost and defeated like Connor Barwin does here.
Tyron Smith kicks out quickly and athletically to the wide-9 technique, then stones him with a great punch. Once he has Barwin under control, he handles him down the line of scrimmage and finishes the pass block.
As technically sound and powerful as Tyron was all game, this might have been my favorite play he made. Instead of simply saying “I completed my assignment, my play is over,” he has the awareness and the athleticism to get back to the blitzer and save Dak Prescott from a sack.
As great as Tyron Smith is in pass protection, his prowess in run blocking is second to none as well.
This is how you get to the second level and block a linebacker. This is the type of play they should show at offensive line clinics and camps, because Tyron Smith does a perfect job on this play.
Tyron slow-plays up to the second level, keeping the end man on the line of scrimmage honest while still working his way up to his assignment. Once he meets the backer, he uses his excellent hand placement and pure strength to seal him off.
For my money, the hardest block in football is the reach block when the defensive lineman is lined up a full technique over from you. As an offensive tackle, this entails scooping the 3-technique with a backside reach on outside zone.
Tyron Smith makes this look too easy.
He displays great footwork here, taking a bucket step while keeping his shoulders as square as possible to allow himself to get to the defensive tackle. Then, he takes control of the tackle and creates a nice lane for Ezekiel Elliott.
This playside double between Smith and Ronald Leary is everything. I mean, I can't emphasize enough how good this looks.
Leary doesn't do a great job at the snap of the ball, but he gets just enough of the 3-technique to allow Tyron Smith to blow him back into oblivion with his down block. Then, Leary gets up to the second level and seals the linebacker.