FRISCO, Texas – Jaylon Smith prides himself on being the quarterback of the Cowboys' defense.
The middle linebacker and defensive captain believes he and the entire unit still have plenty to improve on despite their No. 4 ranking in scoring defense, having allowed only 14.7 points per game in wins over the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins.
"For us, we haven't hit our standard, and that's including myself," Smith said. "For me, it's all about execution. It's all about making sure my guys are aligned and ready to go, being the quarterback of the defense. So it's about striving for perfection."
Through three games Smith leads the Cowboys with 33 tackles. Last Sunday he stopped a Dolphins drive with a forced fumble near the end of the first half.
With injuries to Tyrone Crawford (hip) and Antwaun Woods (ankle) depleting the defensive line, the Cowboys continued to use Smith – a savvy blitzer from the linebacker spot – as a pass rusher in certain situations.
"I love it," Smith said. "It's something that I possess, so when given an opportunity it's about producing, me getting sacks, helping my team get sacks and it's about getting off the field. Anything that the coaches want me to do I'm going to do."
That likely contributed to the coaches' decision to play backup Joe Thomas a season-high 33 snaps against the Dolphins, spelling both Smith and starting strong-side linebacker Sean Lee.
"I believe so. Just using our personnel," Smith said. "All of us have gifts. The biggest thing is just making sure that we're together and we're accomplishing the mission."