Sherrington: Why is it they’re struggling so much against the run?
Machota: Sean Lee would be where I start. I think you’re a different defense with Sean Lee out there. With that being said, I really didn’t feel this defense was going to be any better than it was the last couple years – it’s still going to be a team that has to win with its offense. Really in the NFL nowadays there really isn’t a dominant team. You don’t have to be this complete team on both sides of the ball. But these last two games are games they won last year. When the offense played the way they did against the Rams and against the Packers, those had games they’d closed out but couldn’t get the stop late. Yeah Sean Lee being out is a big part of it but you have guys in there that you think can get the job done but that just isn’t the strong part of their team. Fans get annoyed because they can’t make these key stops but we haven’t seen them make these key stops over the last three or four years. I don’t see that changing any time soon. They’ve invested in the defense early in the draft but they have to do that multiple drafts to get to where the defense is the strength of the team and I don’t see that happening in the next year or two.
Sherrington: So Sean Lee will get back and of course two weeks ago Anthony Hitchens was back against the Packers and he had one really good moment… Is any (linebacker) help going to have to come from within?
Machota: The best thing that could happen is they get Sean Lee back and for Sean Lee to be healthy. If he’s out there and healthy … this isn’t really your traditional defense where you have three linebackers on the field at all times. You’re basically playing two. If Lee’s out there all the time, then really you have to worry about one other spot, that being the middle spot with Anthony Hitchens and Jaylon Smith. I think if you have all three of those guys playing, I think they’re going to be pretty strong at linebacker because Jaylon Smith playing 60 plays, that’s just not the right thing to do right now. They had to do it because they were thin at the position, with Sean Lee being out. Your best bet with Jaylon Smith right now is playing 25-30 plays and that’s what it looks like it’ll be with Anthony Hitchens back. That being said, Anthony Hitchens was dealing with an injury to start the season.
The hamstring injuries, as we all know from following the Cowboys, how common those things are and how they can flare up and get work. So there’s no guarantee that those guys are going to all be out there, but you’re greatest hope at linebacker would be that all three of them can stay healthy enough to stay on the field and if they do I think they’ll be fine there. That’s asking a lot because of the injuries in the past, and that’s why I think you would kick the tires on a Navarro Bowman if they were given the opportunity. Obviously he stayed in the Bay Area by signing the one year deal with Oakland, but that’s why you kick the tires on that if given the opportunity. You really do need another linebacker in there that you can count on. Now the next guy up would be Damien Wilson, but I don’t think Damien Wilson right now is at the same level as Navarro Bowman, so if you can upgrade it you try, but really they need those three guys to stay healthy.
Sherrington: The problem for Jaylon Smith is even if you cut his snaps down, and you’re right 60 was ridiculous, to get it down to 25 or 30, the point is it’s not so much that he’s being exposed because he’s worn out. He just doesn’t have the speed at this point to cover running backs coming out of the backfield. You watch his straight ahead stuff he’s pretty good, but when he has to go side-to-side, that’s where he really struggles. To me if he’s playing 25 plays or if he’s playing 10 plays or 15 plays, he’s still going to get in trouble in those kinds of situations. An opponent is going to look at that and they’re going to see him out there and they’re going to make him the focal point, I think, of what they use to try and beat the Cowboys.
I think that’s the big problem here, is that Jaylon Smith got rushed back, and by the Cowboys who were trying to trumpet this as oh my gosh, he’s just going to be an unbelievable player and we said all along that was unfair to him to say that and have those expectations. And now we’re seeing it’s not just about it being bad public relations, it’s just a bad job of planning. If you didn’t have the faith in Damien Wilson to come in and be the guy who’d fill in if Jaylon couldn’t make it, if you really believed all that and you didn’t think Damien Wilson was good enough, well then shame on you.
Machota: I think they also did it to build some confidence in Jaylon Smith. To get him out there and maybe the more he played, the more comfortable he’d get …
With that said, I think you can do that at 30 snaps. I don’t think you need to be giving him 60. I think that was too much, it put him in a bad spot, but I think it’s interesting also with what happened to Aaron Rodgers recently and the way the Packers have handled compared to the way the Cowboys handled it. It’s interesting, you mention Jaylon Smith and how it’s a disservice to him that they wanted to bring him back and they talked up of what kind of player he’s going to be when he comes back, and just the way the Packers have handled everything with Aaron Rodgers makes me think about that a lot. Because he has this collarbone injury, he’s going to have surgery on it. The same thing as Tony Romo.
Well when that happened to Tony Romo, what was Jerry Jones doing? He was going on the radio talking about we could have Tony back in six to eight weeks. Look at the way the Packers handled it. They’re already saying that yeah he’s probably done for the season. If Jerry Jones was the owner of the Packers right now, do you believe that he would be sitting there and saying yeah we’re without Rodgers for the rest of the season, so we’ve got this Hundley kid and this is our guy. No, Jerry Jones would be doing his radio show up in Green Bay about Rodgers isn’t done, the bone heals in six weeks and he could be back in eight and that’s just the difference between the Cowboys and other teams. Now I do believe you should get Jaylon Smith out there because I do think getting on the field builds confidence, especially being away from the game for a year with that injury. I just don’t think he ever should have been on the field for 60 plus plays.