The All-Pro lineman is a fan of the rookie’s versatility.
The Cowboys are hoping that by having Smith learn two jobs on one side of the ball, the promising rookie can double his value to the team and be a force on Dak Prescott’s blind side for years to come.
“It pays off that he’s playing on one side,” Martin said of the youngster’s early workload at both left guard and left tackle. “If you were playing left guard and then swinging over to right tackle, in my mind, that would be much harder than going from left tackle to left guard.
“Obviously, the protection stuff in space is different, but at least your footwork- in the run game, especially- is going to be the exact same at left tackle and left guard. It’ll be good for him to do both.”
Martin knows what he’s talking about. After making the initial jump from the left side once he got to the pros, he’s been the most dominant right guard in the sport. But in 2020, his seventh season, Martin was suddenly pressed into duty at right tackle for a couple games due to linemates’ injuries. It may seem like a minor shift. It is not.
With Michael Gallup set to miss the first few games of the regular season, the Cowboys will need their backup wide receivers to step up.
As one of Dak Prescott’s favorite targets when he plays, Gallup’s absence will open up a lot of targets for other receiving options. Naturally, we first look to the WR depth chart for guys who will get a bigger share while he’s out. But what about some of the other offensive positions?
Obviously the guy who moves up to WR2 is the first candidate to see a production spike. But even that is uncertain right now as veteran James Washington and rookie Jalen Tolbert appear to be headed into a competition. Both will likely see an uptick in targets while Gallup’s out but one in particular will be the temporary starter, giving him greater opportunity.
What about the other pass-catchers at tight end? It wasn’t long ago that Jason Witten was often the second-most productive receiver in Dallas’ offense. Could Dalton Schultz see an even bigger jump in his stats from the last two years? Especially if defenses are keying on CeeDee Lamb, Schultz could be the biggest beneficiary of all.
Jason Garrett’s advice for Mike McCarthy as long as he’s Dallas Cowboys head coach - Staff, Dallas Morning News
The former head coach had some advice for the new man in charge.
On the advice he would give to Mike McCarthy dealing with outside noise while being Cowboys coach (such as rumors where other coaches like Sean Payton or Dan Quinn might be getting mentioned as your replacement) ...
Garrett: “I think the biggest thing for any head coach – and really for any player in the NFL – is really just focus on yourself and what you need to do to be your best. And I know that’s a cliché, and everyone thinks it’s coach speak and all of that, but it’s so true. And it’s so true certainly in a place like Dallas.
“There’s a lot of people who make their living speculating about things and digging things up and stirring things up. That’s just the world that we live in. The days of Walter Cronkite telling you the news as it is, you know, six o’clock every weekday evening – those are long gone. It’s 24-hour news cycles and we’re trying to stir the pot. And so, when you’re in those roles you have to just really focus on what you need to do to be your best.
“This was a theme that we tried to use with all of our players through the years – players getting into Twitter wars and all of this kind of stuff – it’s like, ‘Hey, let’s just lock in on what we need to do each day to be our best.’ And when you’re preaching that message to your team, sometimes you’ve got to preach it to yourself. ...
Leighton Vander Esch’s end-of-season stretch was top 10 at the position over that span - Aidan Davis, Blogging The Boys
The former first-round pick looked much better in the second half of the season.
Two points must be established before addressing LVE’s play over the back half of 2021: There is no guarantee this continues moving forward. Injuries are still a problem with Vander Esch.
These are the two things that could derail Vander Esch’s 2022 campaign. Last year was the first time since his rookie year that he exceeded 700 snaps, and seasons such as these might be the exception rather than the rule moving forward. Also, while he did play great after the bye week last season, no one can presume this is how he will perform in 2022.
With that said, it is safe to say that 2021 was a genuinely great season for LVE. Before the bye week, he should have been a cut candidate. In weeks one through six last season, he was the 76th ranked LB in the NFL by PFF grading. That is out of 88 qualifying linebackers. It was worse than 2019 or 2020.
But then the switch flipped. In weeks eight through 18, which is after the Dallas bye week, he was the ninth-ranked interior linebacker in the league according to PFF. In 11 weeks, which is a solid chunk of the season, he was better than names like De’Vondre Campbell, Demario Davis, Bobby Wagner, Jordan Hicks, and Anthony Barr. In case you were wondering, Micah Parsons was the number one ranked linebacker over this period.
Should the Cowboys look to add a swing tackle from outside the organization?
To help pass the time until then, we've come up with our annual list of the 20 most pressing questions about the Cowboys this year. Today, we'll start things off with an always-pertinent topic: offensive line depth. Is The Swing Tackle Currently On The Roster?.
Rob Phillips: Yes, because Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones told us so on draft weekend. His exact words after drafting Matt Waletzko in the fourth round were, "He sure took the spot of a veteran swing guy out here in free agency. We won't be seeing one of those." Could things change based on performance? Absolutely. The Cowboys signed veterans for the role in past years (Cameron Erving, Cameron Fleming, Ty Nsekhe) but they've drafted three tackles in the past two offseasons (Josh Ball, Tyler Smith, Waletzko). The obvious preference is one of the three young guys stepping up. If Tyler Smith wins the left guard job, maybe he's not a candidate. But after backup quarterback, this is the most important backup spot on the roster. If you're asking me right now to pick one player to start for Tyron Smith or Terence Steele in a pinch, it's Tyler Smith, and Connor McGovern could slide to left guard for a "best five" lineup.
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