Without LT Tyron Smith, Dallas has no shot at the NFC East crown this season
Can a season end before it even starts? That’s the question facing every Dallas Cowboys fan following the injury news regarding Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith.
After suffering a hamstring injury during Wednesday’s practice, it was reported by multiple sources that Smith is facing surgery and likely won’t be back on the field until December.
Despite the key loss, Dallas remains the odds on favorite to win the NFC East. Via DraftKings Sportsbook, Dallas’ odds to win the division sit at +140, while the Eagles have closed the gap dramatically since the beginning of the offseason, as they sit at +160 odds.
The Smith injury aside, Dallas still looks like a team primed for a regression in 2022. During the offseason, Dallas lost a handful of key contributors. Amari Cooper is now in Cleveland, La’el Collins will be protecting Joe Burrow in Cincy for the foreseeable future, and after initially agreeing to terms with DE Randy Gregory, the defensive lineman pulled out at the last minute to join the Broncos.
Here’s the real kicker — Dallas’ brass essentially did nothing to replace any of their lost talent.
They’ll be relying on the combination of third-round rookie Jalen Tolbert free agent acquisition James Washington to fill Cooper’s void. A bold move by Jerry Jones and Co. but I respect it.
In an attempt to replace Gregory, Dallas went out and signed Dante Fowler to a one-year deal. Fowler had a combined 7.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Gregory recorded six sacks just last year.
For Collins, well, Dallas just didn’t do anything to try and replace him. They spent their first-round pick on offensive lineman Tyler Smith, someone they view as a potential long-term replacement for Tyron Smith at left tackle, but he’s played exclusively at left guard throughout training camp and the preseason. Without both Smith and Collins, the rookie will be thrown into the fire earlier than expected. And it may be at a position he hasn’t played at all throughout camp. Not ideal.
Along with all the losses, Dallas has question marks scattered across their current crop of players.
Is Trevon Diggs actually a good corner, or did he just catch quarterbacks off guard with his aggressiveness last year? I’ll let you be the judge.
Per Pro Football Focus, Diggs was the 80th-ranked CB in football last season, earning a 58.5 defensive grade.
Is Ezekiel Elliot even the best running back on the roster anymore? Zeke barely cracked 1,000 rushing yards last season despite starting all 17 games. His running mate, Tony Pollard, averaged 5.5 yards per carry and earned an 86.0 PFF grade, good for sixth-best in the NFL.
Is Mike McCarthy a good coach? Can Dak Prescott be productive without Cooper in the fold? Is CeeDee Lamb ready to become a true No. 1 receiver? You get the point.
Dallas is scrambling for optimism. So much so that they haven’t stopped talking about USFL MVP KaVontae Turpin scoring two return touchdowns in their last preseason game.
Sending thoughts and prayers to Skip. He’s clearly down bad right now.
While Dallas continues to look for answers, the Eagles are thriving. They’ve improved nearly every position on their roster and look like a legitimate football team; not a random assembly of big names who are only recognizable because they play in Dallas.
The bottom line is this, Philadelphia is a better team top to bottom. I’ll entertain a debate on who has the better quarterback, but that’s about it. The Eagles are better at every other position.
We also can’t forget that the NFC East hasn’t had a repeat winner since 2003-’04, so history is on the Eagles side as well.
Dallas will compete this year. They’ll have their short run and every sports outlet will spout their Cowboys propaganda for a week or two. And in the end, pundits will look at each other and ask, “what happened to the Cowboys?!” The answer is simple — they’re just not that good. They don’t have the horses to keep up with Philadelphia this season.
I won’t guarantee a division title for the Eagles this season, but I sure as hell can guarantee it won’t belong to Dallas.
Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons | USA Today Sports