It’s a new day and a new era in the Dallas Cowboys organization. Head coach Mike McCarthy will take a different approach when it comes to what the Cowboys defensively. He’ll look to take advantage of what skills a particular player possesses more so than how they fit into a scheme.
According to Mike Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys could look to switch Jaylon Smith to outside linebacker. The team still plans to use a 4-3 scheme but implement some 3-4 principles, using a designated rusher concept which is ideal for Smith.
#Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy says they will have a 4-3 defense with some 3-4 principles like the designated pass rusher concept.
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) April 21, 2020
Smith’s best season in the NFL was in 2018 when he racked up 121 tackles, which included four sacks. In 2019 he had a better season number wise with 142 tackles but seemed to take a step back with his reaction time and coverage ability. Nonetheless, he did add 2.5 sacks which gives him 6.5 over the last two seasons from the middle linebacker spot, so he’s been effective when used as a pass rusher.
To maximize the unique ability of Smith you want him to be on the outside so he can roam and attack the line of scrimmage in run support and as a blitzer. If this switch were to take place, the Cowboys would have somebody else coming off the edge along with DeMarcus Lawrence on the left side and a combination of Randy Gregory, Aldon Smith, and rookie Bradlee Anae on the right side. They could use stunts to rush Smith from the interior and cause chaos for offensive lines while creating more one-on-one opportunities for the Cowboy’s defensive tackles. Also, this would move Leighton Vander Esch to middle linebacker and silence all doubts they the organization is worried about him recovering from a neck injury that prematurely ended his 2019 season.
New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will look to play press-man coverage and get after the quarterback via the blitz. Giving Smith the “designated pass rusher” role would allow the Cowboys to be more aggressive and unorthodox in this new hybrid scheme they’ll be running defensively.
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