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How The Dallas Cowboys Replace Tyron Smith

Editor’s note: Former NFL coach Mike Zimmer gives his thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ injury situation following the loss of Tyron Smith.

It’s disappointing, obviously, for the Dallas Cowboys to lose Tyron Smith. Coaches go into the season anticipating all their good players are there. But coach Mike McCarthy is a good coach. They do a good job in Dallas, and he’ll find a way to be efficient offensively and to try to cover up any weakness at left tackle. They’ll try to figure out ways to overcome that.

Overcoming Injury

Any time you have key players on your team that get hurt, it always makes it difficult. But, there are a lot of ways to overcome those things.

Terrance Steele plays tackle, and I thought he did a nice job last year. The Cowboys also said, if the season started today, Connor McGovern would be the left guard. So, whoever is working at left tackle will have to get in sync with McGovern.

But there are ways to overcome that. Dallas likes to run a lot of empty formations, which causes the ball to get out quickly. They can also slide the protection to the left and chip with the back. They can move the tight end from the right side to the left side if they need help over there.

I think a lot of coaches will try to get their best rushers on their worst players. I mean, that’s just part of game plans each and every week. When I was with the Vikings, we played the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs one year. We put Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter on the two guards because we felt like they were the weakest part of the offensive line.

I’ve even had guys on the sideline come over and say, “Hey, coach, let me get on the other side. I can beat this guy!” Then there will also be overload blitzes and things like that.

Making Adjustments

If you’re getting protection slid to you, you can always add the 5th rusher to get five one-on-ones or four one-on-ones and a linebacker or a safety on a back. Then you can bring some guys from the other side if you’re getting protection the other way. 

I’m sure they’ll be a lot of defenses this season trying to scheme for this loss, and a lot of defenses just do what they do. 

Aaron Donald, for example, if he can beat the guard, they’re probably not going to mess with him and put him out there. But there will be some outside rushers that have the opportunity, and, as I mentioned earlier, you know Dallas will confront that. 

They’ll confront it by getting the ball out quickly sometimes, running play action, bringing a guard to the other side, bringing a tight end to the other side or using the back to chip—even if it’s coming across the formation.

That’s the cat and mouse game that goes on each and every week.

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