Cowboys MVP Is Aldon Smith; Runner-Up Is ... Nobody
FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys’ early-season MVP is a guy who until this month hadn’t played football for a half-decade.
The good news is that Aldon Smith is this team’s MVP.
The bad news is at the runner-up is ... nobody.
"I feel like I try to bring my A-game every time I go out and play,'' said Smith, who did that in Sunday’s 38-31 loss at Seattle in which he recorded three sacks of Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.
Smith was the Cowboys best defensive player in a Week 1 loss at the Rams (in on 10 tackles and a sack), and had five tackles in a Week 2 victory over Atlanta.
Other Cowboys - Dak Prescott, Zack Martin, Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup - have had their moments over the course of the last three weeks. But Dallas players who have been consistently excellent? That’s a painfully short list.
Smith’s accomplishments don’t just put him out of the Dallas leaderboard; he also leads the NFL in sacks with four.
You’ll recall, as CowboysSI.com was first report, the Cowboys structured the Smith one-year "$4 million'' contract in a way that he would be rewarded for a) showing up and b) recording sacks.
*Guarantees: $95,000 - but that's only IF Smith, who was on NFL suspension when Dallas did the deal, is reinstated. (He of course was.)
*Training camp installments: $100,000 + 100,000 + 100,000 paid over the course of the month at camp, based on his presence. (Smith earned each of these.)
*Regular-season weekly active bonus = $650,000 total. That's $40,625 x 16 weeks. (He's collected three of these paychecks so far.)
8 sacks = $500,000.
10 sacks = $1 million.
12 sacks = $1.5 million.
14 sacks = $2 million.
So Dallas guaranteed very little ... and Smith is giving greatly.
Smith unselfishly notes that his sack totals are in part the result of a group effort.
“I work well with the other guys and we work well with each other,” he said. “Rushing is a team effort ... If it wasn't for the other guys playing their roles and doing things, it would have been much tougher for me to make some plays out there."
READ MORE: Fish Column - Cowboys Defense: Historically Bad & Officially Dirty
The Cowboys as a team did sack Wilson four times. But they also allowed him five TD passes and 315 yards passing, as Dallas fell to 1-2.
Smith, who had 19.5 sacks in 2012 before violations of the NFL substance-abuse policy and an assortment of troubling behavioral issues, has an optimistic view of Dallas’ defensive future.
“It's just that we've got to make more plays next time,” Smith said. ... and it’s true: a lot more “we” is needed alongside the MVP.