It was a crucial moment in the loss to Washington.d a third-and-six from their own 29-yard line. Dak Prescott Cheap Christian Kirk Jersey , unable to find a receiver, pulled the ball down and darted 22 yards to give the Cowboys a first down on the Washington 49.Only to have that run called back by a holding penalty against LT Tyron Smith. Dallas failed to convert, and the offense would sputter for much of the game. It was at the least a loss of field position, and it may have changed the entire course of the game. It was an uncharacteristic mistake by Smith. Or, at least, it used to be. This season, Smith has been struggling in game after game. He has three penalties this season, but the worst problem is how many times he is getting beaten by pass rushers coming off the edge. He has always had something of a vulnerability to pure speed rushes, but not like this.Since he was drafted by Dallas, Smith has been a key element of the offense. He was the first piece acquired in the building of the offensive line, and the entire philosophy of the team is based on being dominant there. We saw what that could do in 2014 and 2016, when the Cowboys had a nearly unstoppable running game, due largely to the blocking up front. Things have not gone nearly as well this year, which is the second season in a row troubles have plagued the line. Last year, of course, we endured the agonies of the Chaz Green experiment. That was a clear case of a weak link, but this season has been more a case of trying to find a strength here. Zack Martin has been the one consistent performer, and he is now dealing with an MCL sprain, but the team hopes he can go against the Tennessee Titanswith over a week still to recover. La’el Collins has been a bit disappointing, rookie Connor Williams is going through severe growing pains, and while Joe Looney has been better than most backup linemen in the league, the absence of Travis Frederick has been a big problem.But none of those were things we didn’t foresee, at least to some extent. The apparent decline of Smith, who for years was one of very best at his position www.dallascowboysteamonline.com , was unexpected, given that he is still just 27-years-old, which should be the prime of his career at a position where longevity is not such a shock in the Not For Long league. If he is not able to return to something closer to his former level of performance, then the Cowboys have something of a crisis coming. If this decline is not correctable, any solution is going to be expensive. There is a lot more dead money left on his contract through the 2020 season, and moving on from Smith in the future will cost draft capital or using money in free agency to replace him. Both options come with risk.So the Cowboys really, really have to hope that Smith’s problems are temporary. That leads to the question, just what is the problem for him?The first thing that comes to mind is injury. He has a history of back and other problems, and regularly gets “rest days” in practice. The problem there is that when the injuries get to be too much to overcome, there is not much you can do. However, that may not be the real cause. And it ties in to a larger concern. Maybe the arrival of Paul Alexander as offensive line coach has just screwed up the entire group. There is a little evidence for that, if you have similar opinions to mine about who you can trust out there.This is actually good news, because while injuries can become overwhelming, technique is something that should be fixable. It may require another radical step, to cut Alexander loose. That is not something any team likes to do in mid-season, but given that the Cooper trade shows that the Jones family is not going to wait around for next year to get things fixed, it needs to be under consideration. And the team has an interim fix there in assistant offensive line coach Marc Colombo. He is the ultimate home-grown coach, having played for Dallas before joining the staff, and now has over three years’ experience - including his three full seasons under Alexander’s predecessor, Frank Pollack, who certainly had the line working well in 2016.Even if they don’t take Alexander out of the picture, the Cowboys need Smith to get those issues fixed. It is worth noting that he also is next to the rookie on the line, and may be trying a bit too hard to help him out, or just does not trust him enough to stay focused on his assignment. In any case Dallas Cowboys T-Shirt , he has to recover some of the technique he used to display so well. For over half a decade, Smith has been the anchor of the line, but he has come adrift. Now he needs to get his grip back, both figuratively and literally, since he long had the reputation for shutting down anyone when he could get his hands in place on their chest. The term “vice-grip” was once used to describe how that went. It needs to come back, because his quarterback is still dealing with a case of the nerves almost whenever he goes back to pass. Smith is hardly the only thing that still needs to be fixed at this point. But now that they have addressed the wide receiver issue, he may be the most crucial. If he can return to even a close approximation of what he has been for so long, then just as Cooper is expected to do, he will make everything around him better. If not - well, let’s just hope he does.Point/Counterpoint: Can these four Cowboys stars rebound from bad performances? With the Dallas Cowboys facing a suddenly very important game against the New York Giants, we are all wondering if they can bounce back from a very disappointing opener against the Carolina Panthers. In particular, the team saw some bad play from Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, and Sean Lee, all of whom are going to be vital if the team is to overcome an 0-1 start. Can they play better this week? My co-author here at Blogging The Boys, Michael Strawn, and I sat down and had a little discussion about that.Michael: Well, those are actually four separate questions; three of those questions can be addressed with the same answer. I fully expect Tyron Smith, Sean Lee and Ezekiel Elliott to bounce back to form. Each of them are All-Pro players with long histories of elite level performance. A one game aberration won’t make me doubt what they can do. I put more faith in the body of each of those player’s work than I do in a single game after a long layoff.However, I can’t say the same regarding Dak Prescott. I’ve been a big Dak believer. But I was utterly appalled at his performance Sunday. He not only didn’t improve upon his second half 2017 performance, he regressed even further. At this point, I’m on the other side of the coin with him. Until he can prove he can again be 2016 Dak, I’ll have to assume that what we have seen recently is what we’ll get moving forward.Tom: Well Dallas Cowboys Hats , on the first three, the legalese that “past performance is no guarantee of future results” seems appropriate here. In the cases of Smith and Lee, both have been in the league a long time already, eight seasons for Smith and nine for Lee. All players face an inevitable point of decline, and while I certainly hope it is not so, they might have hit that point after all those games. Both have injury histories to worry about as well.With Zeke, it is more about the lack of time right now. He has gotten off to slow starts in his first two seasons, so a rebound is certainly likely. The problem is that it took him a couple of games to get on track the first two years, and the Cowboys just can’t afford that. They need him to get it going on Sunday.On Dak, I will say this in his defense. He is only entering his third year in the league, and the man so many use as a measuring stick for him, Tony Romo, did not become a starter until his fourth seaspn. There is certainly room for growth. The problem with him is like with Zeke: They can’t wait until next season to see him figure things out. Not if certain coaches want to keep their jobs.Michael: You raise a number of interesting points. I can’t really argue what you say about Tron and Lee; they are reaching the point of their careers where age-related declines could impact their performance (although it’s amazing to me that Smith is still only 28, the same age as Zack Martin). And yes, injuries have plagued Smith in recent years. But he looked better than he has in years in preseason. And his issues Sunday weren’t physical so much as mental; he frequently seemed confused on assignments and just failed to pick up his man. Lee, on the other hand, has always played well when he’s been on the field.But your final sentence regarding Dak is the elephant in the room. The Cowboys’ brass effectively bet the team’s immediate and near future on Prescott. It was a sound bet based upon his 2016 performance. And it looked perfectly reasonable all the way through November of last year. At this moment, however, it’s looking very iffy. Prescott has played at a Brandon Weeden/Matt Cassell level for his last nine games. He currently ranks 24th in QBR (which has always valued him higher due to his running contributions). If he can’t turn it around, and pronto, as you say, the entire coaching staff likely won’t be here in a year. And the franchise will have been set back years as they look for their next franchise quarterback. No pressure, Dak.Tom: I do agree that the issues with both Smith and Lee looked mental. The question remains for them if they can clean up things in a week of practice. That is a concern, given how long they had to come out and get it right in the opener. As much respect as we all have for both of them Dallas Cowboys Hoodie , it is now a “prove it” situation. And the Cowboys need them to, because the loser of this game is all alone in last place in the NFC East, and that is a deep hole to climb out of, even this early.Zeke similarly showed some similar things, missing openings to just plow into the center of the formidable Panthers defense. With another pair of good defensive tackles lining up this week to stop him, he has to get things right as well. And he does not have the long years of experience to fall back on. He needs some help from the line and from Scott Linehan to put him in a better place to succeed.Dak makes it unanimous about mental breakdowns. He had happy feet and was just slow in his reads. Again, he needs more protection plus some help from Linehan, Jason Garrett (who is always very involved in the QB room), and Kellen Moore. And he needs to take in and use what they tell him.Michael: Again, all good points. I think we’re not really far apart here. It is somewhat surprising that after an offseason of concerns about the tight ends, receiving corps and safety position we’re talking about Smith, Lee and Elliott. I end where I began; I’m optimistic we see a return to form.Tom: I hope we do, but as I said, this is a prove it situation. But if there is a silver lining, it is that not all four have to get it down this week (assuming they come along later). The defense played well even with an off day from Lee, and if either Dak or Zeke is back to form, then the offense should do enough to win this one. Better play from Smith might be enough all by itself, given how that would impact both the passing and running game. But the team will need all four on track before too long. And they have to have at least some of these players back up to what they can be this week, or bad days are ahead.