With a brutal schedule of games the Dallas Cowboys are hoping that Brandon Weeden and a defense that’s getting back some key players will be able to somehow get back on the winning track so that when Dez Bryant and later Tony Romo come back, there’s still something to play for.
Romo isn’t due back before week 11, which means the Cowboys could be already out of the playoff race by then. After impressive two wins against division rivals (Giants & Eagles) to start the season, the Romo injury came, and with it two games that showed just how vulnerable the Cowboys are with a limited, obvious offense and a defense that’s thin all over the place.
The Cowboys couldn’t hang on to halftime leads in both losses to the Falcons and Saints, the two more winnable games (in the opinion of some) for them in an upcoming schedule that includes the Patriots, Seahawks, Giants and Eagles. The running game, which last season could kill these games easily by eating up the clock, is averaging just 4.1 yards per carry compared to 4.6 last season, which was the third best in the NFL. Teams can easily stack the box against the Cowboys, knowing that Weeden can’t get the ball downfield, and his confidence might not be too high, having not started in a win since 2012.
Greg Hardy (who can’t wait to play against Tom Brady again) and Rolando McClain are coming back, which should help the defense out a lot, but not against the New England Patriots. The Cowboys have done a good job of keeping things simple and short in the passing game but that’s just not enough when missing two huge players like Bryant, maybe the best receiver in the league, and Tony Romo, who might be easy to pick on but numbers constantly show he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Bryant might be ready to play in week 6 when the Cowboys play the Giants again. That’s good news, because it finally gives the Cowboys a player teams can’t leave just one guy on. Even if Bryant can’t get too far down the field because Weeden won’t be able to connect with him, it finally gives the Cowboys a playmaker that’s a game changing force, and maybe tip the scales back in their favor, knowing things are getting quite desperate to stop the losing streak and not let this season sink in vain.
From potential NFC champions and Super Bowl contenders to a team that’s hoping they’re not out of the running by mid season. That’s the nature of the NFL and the injuries of the league, especially when a starting franchise quarterback is involved. There’s still time for the Cowboys to keep this season interesting, but it mostly involves the players getting better or getting better players back from injury, because offensively and defensively, there’s no better game plan for them than the one they’re currently executing, because of who is forced to be on the field.