Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch Have Uncharacteristically Missed A Few Tackles, And Both Would Like To Have A Few Plays Back
We’re three weeks into the regular season and the Cowboys are undefeated. Talk of the Boys having the best linebacking corps was prevalent before the season started, so where are the splash plays from Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch?
In 2018, these two filled the stat sheet and dominated on game days. Vander Esch finished with 140 tackles 7 passes defended and 2 INTs as a rookie. Smith chipped in 120 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles. Those are huge numbers for the linebacker position, but are we seeing the same level of play this year?
In the first three games, Leighton has 21 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and a half a sack. Smith 27 tackles and 1 forced fumble. Both players have uncharacteristically missed a few tackles, and both would like to have a few plays back.
What May Have Influenced Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch’s Game
They’ve taken some bad angles, overrun some plays, and not always maintained their gap responsibility. It certainly hasn’t been all bad, but it’s also not the level of play we’ve seen from them in past games. Sean Lee is getting more snaps than last year which might be a factor with their production but his assistance should keep Vander Esch and Smith fresh for a full 16 game slate.
This linebacker duo will need to step up their play because the Cowboys schedule has been a cakewalk compared to the next 13 games. The Boys will go up against some tough offenses’ in the Packers, Eagles, Patriots, and Rams, not to mention this week’s opponent the Saints.
The Cowboys dominated on defense against the Saints last year holding them to 10 points thanks in large part to Vander Esch and Smith. In that game, Alvin Kamara had 36 yards rushing and 36 yards receiving. The Cowboys linebackers were swarming to the football and were making plays all over the field.
The Saints will be without Drew Brees and backup QB Teddy Bridgewater is a dink and dunker who plays conservative and likes to throw the short ball. If the Cowboys want to contain this offense, it will be up to LVE and Jaylon to dominate like they did last year.
Fear not Cowboys fans, these two are monsters and their breakout game could be this Sunday. Dallas is holding opposing teams to only 90 rushing yards-per-game and only allowing 14.7 points-per-game. If Vander Esch and Smith can hold Kamara again, the Boys should be 4-0 Sunday night.
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