On Thursday morning, the Cowboys received the bad news that Tyron Smith had torn his hamstring and will return in January at the earliest. Smith is scheduled to have surgery this morning to reattach his hamstring tendon to his knee.
Smith’s absence will be monumental. The eight-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro is a leader in the locker room, and a good player to have around the younger guys on the team. Smith has especially been helpful in getting rookie Tyler Smith up and running in his first training camp.
Tyler was the Cowboys first round draft pick and played left tackle at Tulsa. But his technique needs to be improved, so the coaching staff has him competing for the starting spot at left guard. The hope is for Tyler to one day take over the left tackle spot once Tyron leaves the team.
Now that we’ve covered the significance of Smith’s presence in the locker room, how will it impact Dallas on game days?
We wanted to measure the statistical value Smith brought to the table, so we backtracked to 2021 and reviewed the offense’s success when he played vs when he sat due to injury.
Smith’s statistical value to the Cowboys
Smith missed six games last season. Five were due to an ankle injury and the last was in Week 18 when he sat to rest for the playoffs.
Here’s how the Cowboys’ offense did when Smith was in the lineup:
- Points per game: 30
- Passing yards per game: 289
- Rushing yards per game: 131
Here’s how the offense performed in games when Smith was out:
- Points per game: 32
- Passing yards per game: 269
- Rushing yards per game: 113
The most noticeable variation in the stats can be found when looking at the average passing and rushing yards per game. The Cowboys passed for 20 more yards and ran for 18 more yards when Smith suited up. Dallas actually scored two more points without Smith.
But these numbers are a bit understated because the offense had its best game of the season in Week 18 when they faced an Eagles team that benched a majority of its starters.
In that game, Dallas scored 51 points, passed for 304 yards and rushed for 171 yards. Smith sat out against the Eagles to rest for the playoffs, but had he played there would be a much wider difference in the offensive averages listed above.
Can the Cowboys win the NFC East without Tyron Smith?
The odds are already against Dallas to repeat as divisional champs in 2022 because no team has won it in consecutive seasons since 2004.
Luckily, Dallas’ NFC East opponents don’t have very dominant defenses. In 2021, the Commanders allowed 25 points per game (ranked 25th), the Giants allowed 24 points per game (ranked 23rd) and the Eagles allowed 22 points per game (ranked 18th).
The biggest threat to Dallas’ NFC East supremacy is the Eagles, and they’ve improved their defense greatly this offseason. They acquired cornerback James Bradberry who tallied seven interceptions in the last two seasons, and linebacker Hasson Reddick who sacked the QB 11 times in 2021.
Philadelphia also dedicated some draft capital to the defense. The Eagles first round pick was defensive lineman Jordan Davis, and in round three they selected linebacker Nakobe Dean. Both were members of the Georgia Bulldogs 2022 National Championship team.
Davis went viral in early August for this dominant pass rush during Eagles training camp:
The Eagles will need every advantage they can get to repeat as NFC East champs, and losing Smith was certainly a step in the wrong direction.