After three consecutive losses with the last of them extremely humiliating, the Dallas Cowboys are headed into a much needed bye week, knowing that the run without Tony Romo, replaced by Brandon Weeden at quarterback, could cost them a playoff spot by the time Romo comes back from his injury.
The Cowboys were beaten by the New England Patriots 30-6 in an abysmal offensive performance, that included a miserable first half with only one drive not ending in a punt, and the same going for the second half, when the exhausted defense could no longer hold the fort after doing quite well early on. The poor tackling by the secondary and the scoring-at-will atmosphere surrounding each possession by the Patriots didn’t make it easier to watch.
Not everything was bad for the Cowboys. Greg Hardy looked great and got two sacks on Tom Brady. Rolando McClain also played and got himself a sack. The Cowboys have a very good front seven, but that won’t help with a secondary that’s softer than butter and an offense that can’t stay on the field for too long. Finding a way to make the offense, whether it’s Brandon Weeden or Matt Cassel behind center, is crucial as the Cowboys prepare for their second game against the red hot New York Giants, hoping Dez Bryant is ready to play by then.
It might not matter if Bryant is ready or not. With the Cowboys unable to get the ball deeper than 10 yards, his ability to be a deep threat is cancelled. You almost pity Weeden as he struggles in finding an open receiver, or more like not being able to get the ball to an open receiver. The Patriots didn’t need to do much in order to keep the Cowboys grounded: Fill the box and watch out for slants. They even got three sacks without being too aggressive on the pass rush because of how clueless the Cowboys offense seems to be.
While the running game could be a little bit better, this isn’t a running game issue. Teams know the Cowboys don’t have much of a choice. Without any player that gets double coverage like Bryant, it’s pretty easy slowing the Cowboys down, averaging a disappointing 4.1 yards per carry so far this season with 106.2 yards on the ground. Three losses will do that to you. The Cowboys are stuck at quarterback with someone who doesn’t have much longer in this league.
The question about Romo returning is whether or not there will still be something to play for. If the snowball continues to roll down the mountainside and turn into an avalanche, don’t be surprised to see the Cowboys at 2-7 or 2-8 when he comes back. Bryant returning does open up some things on offense, but it might not be enough to cancel out the damage Weeden is doing every time the ball is snapped to him. The Cowboys are considering moving Matt Cassel on to the field instead of him, although considering Cassel wasn’t even good enough for the Bills, he might not be the savior as well.