One of the many things that went wrong on the final drive of the Cowboys' loss to the Lions was a sack of Tony Romo by Willie Young that cost the team 10 yards.
The play stuck out because rookie right tackle Tyron Smith was responsible for blocking Young on the play. Even though we weren't four full games into Smith's professional career, he's set a high enough standard that seeing him come up short is a surprise that sticks with you several days after the game.
The sack left a bad taste in Smith's mouth, but he should feel very good about his first month as a professional. He should feel particularly good about the Detroit game, even with the sack he allowed. Smith handled his business in the running and passing games without any other mistakes, providing the Cowboys with the steadiness they didn't have at that spot last season.
The Lions game was Smith's best of the young season, but he hasn't had a bad outing yet. The team has had more success running behind Smith than it has had running behind any of the other offensive linemen. His pass protection hasn't been flawless, but he's only given up six pressures outside of Sunday's sack and he's starting to handle more of the job without needing help from extra blockers.
Offensive line coach Hudson Houck has nothing but good things to say about Smith's play.
"He wants to be perfect in what he does," Houck said. "He never shies away from work. He's a really good practice player. He's a heck of a guy who listens. We're really pleased with him. And he's playing well. He gave up a sack last week that he's very upset about. But you learn. Larry Allen had some sacks early in his career as well."
According to Pro Football Focus (the detailed breakdown requires a subscription), Smith has
than any of his linemates. He's graded out much higher than
Doug Free, who is off to a horrible start after signing a big new contract in the offseason.
That could create an interesting dilemma for the Cowboys at some point in the not too distant future. Smith's draft status and physical abilities peg him as a future left tackle even though Smith played on the right side at USC as well. Free has experience on the right side as well, so shifting things around wouldn't theoretically be a big deal but left tackle is the glamour position so there could be some ruffled feathers.
That's in the future. For now, the Cowboys can just be happy that Smith is a quick study who solidified a trouble spot on the offensive line without so much as a bump in the road.