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Jaylon Smith’s game in Chicago a microcosm of the Cowboys season

The good, the bad and the ugly of the Cowboys season as exemplified by one player’s game.

Dallas Cowboys v Chicago Bears Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

One player who received a lot of attention during, and after, the Chicago Bears game was Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith. He was certainly a hot topic among fans as the game was happening as the Bears offense wasn’t shy about targeting him during the game, and the press wanted to speak to him after the game.

In some ways, Smith’s game in Chicago could stand in as a representation of the Cowboys season.

On the positive side, Smith put up some impressive stats. Consider:

He broke up two passes in the end zone on consecutive plays during the second quarter. Later, he broke up a third pass, becoming just the second Cowboys linebacker in a decade to record three passes defensed in a single game. He recovered a fumble, too.

He also finished with eight tackles and had a tackle for loss.

This is similar to the Cowboys as a team. They have piled up the stats on offense to be among the best teams this year on that side of the ball, yet when it comes to scoring points when it counts, they have been lacking. Likewise, a defense that rates in the Top-10 in certain categories has yet to come up big when needed.

Smith, like the Cowboys, had plenty of stats but very little to point to in terms of winning football.

For example, after breaking up those two pass in the end zone that were discussed above, he gave up the touchdown on the third pass in that series. Later, there was this disaster that was indicative of how Smith has not been a sure tackler this season and prone to bad angles and overrunning plays.

That followed last week’s bizarre effort by Smith on a crucial play.

There was another aspect of Smith’s game last week that rankled the masses. His celebrations after plays when the Cowboys were losing big. It feels similar to the Cowboys overall lack of situational awareness and inability to stay disciplined and focus on the moment.

On top of that, there was a moment where Smith’s celebrations seemed to be in truly poor taste.

Smith has tried to clarify the situation,

“I’m not that type of player,” Smith said. “I didn’t know my guy was hurt. I know how it feels, and I’m praying for him. Absolutely. ... I ain’t that type of guy.”

Smith, who suffered a significant knee injury late in his college career, then posted a social-media message to that same effect.

“To clear the air, I was unaware my opponent was down with an injury following a play in tonight’s game!” Smith wrote on Twitter. “I understand how it feels to be down with an injury and would never wish that upon anyone. I celebrated after making a big play. Sending a speedy recovery his way.”

Nobody wants the Cowboys players to not show any emotion or passion on the field. Jaylon Smith has always seemed like a high character man and one that most Cowboys fan were very high on last year. The drop-off in his play this year has definitely soured those feelings somewhat, and the celebrations during a game when the Cowboys were getting thoroughly outclassed only exacerbates that situation. To be fair to Smith, he wasn’t the only Cowboys player to celebrate individual achievements while the Cowboys were getting pummeled.

Fans can overreact at times, but a little less show and a little more fundamental play might serve the Cowboys well. This shouldn’t all be on Smith either, the entire team can be guilty of these transgressions and it’s just a bad look when you’re losing.

Coach Jason Garrett put it in perspective when discussing the good stats versus results.

“Jaylon was certainly active in the game,” coach Jason Garrett said Friday. “He was around the ball a lot. He did some good things, both as a run defender and as a pass defender. But he was part of the whole defensive effort, and I don’t know if you can look across the board and say anybody really stood out positively on defense when (the Bears moved) the ball as consistently as they did. There were some bright spots. There were some bright plays for different people and for Jaylon, but overall, the defensive effort wasn’t good enough.”


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