It’s the most natural thing in the world when it comes to buying a lottery ticket: You fully understand the odds, but you also allow yourself to dream of buying a yacht.
So it is with the Dallas Cowboys and Jaylon Smith and yet another video that purports to show so much …
But that in actuality shows nothing.
Oh, there is an upside to what’s occurring in this video, and to what’s according inside The Star in Frisco today at OTAs. To wit:
*Smith, the former Notre Dame superstar recovering from a 2016 ACL injury, is without a doubt fast, quick, aggressive, mobile, strong, smart and determined. These facts ooze from every video Smith himself has on occasion dropped on social media, and you see all of that here, too.
*The Cowboys see enough that they are all-but-promising that Jaylon will be on the field and part of the defensive gameplan when we get to September. COO Stephen Jones tells me he’s simply being “transparent and truthful’’ when making such predictions.
*Smith has come a long way in his health, his work ethic — and ceaseless prayerful spirit — looming as a huge part of his life story.
Because of the kind of person he is, coach Jason Garrett said this morning, “He hasn’t had a bad minute, let alone a bad day.’’
*And finally, maybe today will be the best “not-bad day’’ of Jaylon’s offseason, because while Dallas has largely kept the wraps on him during this spring’s OTAs (using a one-day-on/one-day-off formula that not coincidentally has shrouded him from open-media days on the last two Wednesdays) the plan for him today is to be on the field and under the watchful glare of Cowboys Nation.
There is a flip side to all of this.
*Jaylon has been able to perform this sort of athletic magic for months while working against air.
*Jaylon hasn’t much been exposed to live contact in OTAs.
*The reason for that, obviously: He remains largely reliant on the brace that alleviates his drop-foot condition.
*Playing full-contact football is about so much more than being fast, quick, aggressive, mobile, strong, smart and determined. To truly succeed, Jaylon Smith has to find himself engaged with, say, Zack Martin, and then needs to win the engagement, and then needs to tackle Ezekiel Elliott. Those are the things a middle linebacker needs to be able to do … and there is no way to know that Smith can do any of that yet.
*Yes, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has claimed that Smith could’ve been activated last December. And yes, being conservative in bringing Smith back seems wise. But six months later he's mostly day-on/day-off, and he doesn’t much participate in 11-on-11 stuff, and coach Jason Garrett is, as he noted this morning, reluctant to issue guarantees and promises about what Smith can do and when he can do it?
Those are all truthful reasons to tap the brakes on what you think you are seeing in this video. As much as we want this to happen (I detail that desire at length in a recent podcast in which I refuse to bet against him) In the end, even as the Cowboys and Jaylon himself report a lessening of the drop-foot and a continued firing of the nerve in the leg, there are two constants here.
One is Jaylon Smith as a justifiable favorite of the fan base and of the organization.
“Right from the start,’’ Garrett said, “he’s made progress day-to-day. He’s an amazing guy with such spirit and attitude. He’s worked through so many obstacles and he just keeps going.’’
And two is Jaylon Smith as a video star. It’s true in this video. It’s been true in every video. Pending today’s OTA workout, the impressive-against-air videos represent not a change, but rather a constant.