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Jaylon On Cowboys Problem: 'We Didn't Play As A Team'

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith is expressive with his hands. But here, he can not be accused of using those same hands for finger-pointing.

FRISCO - On the field, Jaylon Smith tends to express himself with his hands. Waving his arms, clapping his paws ... "The Swipe.''

But the Dallas Cowboys linebacker can not be accused of using those same hands for finger-pointing.

“Part of it,'' Smith said of the 2020 struggle, "is definitely the defense. We weren’t clicking. From an execution standpoint.

"We weren’t playing together as a team.”

Smith often does a fine job of being cooperative with the media without actually giving too much away. But in a visit this week with FS1’s Speak For Yourself, his honest words offer an indictment of a central problem with that 6-10 campaign.

“You’ve got a bunch of dominant, elite players individually,'' he said. "You've got to be able to come together as a team and understand the scheme. Understand where we supposed to be. And then go out and execute.''

READ MORE: Dallas Cowboys Coordinator Quinn Reveals 'No. 1 Priority'

The scheme, and the teachings of now-fired defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, were absolutely a problem. But Jaylon does think the group experienced a turnaround late in the season that - along with the good health of key guys on the other side of the ball, especially QB Dak Prescott, who was lost for the 2020 NFL season in Week 5 - should pay off to start 2021 under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

“Look at games later in the season,'' he said. "Gelling together, excitement for each other, causing turnovers, celebrating, having fun. That’s really what led to the change of what you’ve seen later in the season from our defense that can obviously help an elite offense.”

Jaylon Smith knows that he needs to improve his individual effectiveness, and that's part of what he's saying here, too. It's a positive sign for head coach Mike McCarthy's program, really, that there seems to be an avoidance of "us vs. them'' (offense vs. defense, which happens plenty inside locker rooms) and instead a focus on a finger pointing in the direction it can best forge improvements ...

In the mirror.

CONTINUE READING: Aikman EXCLUSIVE: Dallas Cowboys Will 'Sleep Well' If They Sign Dak