Early last season, the Dallas Cowboys were picked to finish last in their division and ended up being a catch away from the NFC Championship game. This year, the Cowboys were picked as one of the early favorites to make it all the way to Santa Clara, but lady luck hasn’t been on their side. In the offseason, the team lost the league’s leading rusher Demarco Murray to their division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas signed Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain, but the two were suspended for the first four games of the season. Then, towards the end of training camp, defensive captain Orlando Scandrick tore his ACL in practice and was deemed to be out for the year.
The Cowboys has the mantra of “Finish the Fight” and “Next Man Up,” but pretty soon, there won’t be any men left. Dez Bryant sat out in the offseason in order to get a big contract ($70 million, $45 million guaranteed to be exact), but in the first game against the Giants, he broke his foot and is out anywhere from 4 weeks to the entire season. The Cowboys weathered the storm, pulled out a win against the G-Men, and moved on to Philly the next week. During the Eagles game, Dallas lost its most valuable player, Quarterback Tony Romo, to a broken clavicle. Romo is set to miss 8 weeks and was placed on injured reserve. Relying on backup QB Brandon Weeden wouldn’t seem so bad if the Cowboys weren’t also lacking a consistent running game and in danger of missing other key players, like offensive linemen Ronald Leary, Terrell McClain (who played great in the Eagles game), and Jason Witten (who sprained both ankles and a knee last week).
What will Dallas do? Well, the team has no choice but to move on. Not having Murray this season might not be so bad considering he had 2 yards on 13 carries against the Cowboys in Week 2. All Weeden has to do is not screw up and he’ll be just fine. Weeden was efficient last year when he was called in to fill in for Romo against the Redskins, and he didn’t skip a beat when called in this time. Hopefully, he wont be the Brandon Weeden that was drafted to Cleveland or the Brandon Weeden who couldn’t move the offense against the Arizona Cardinals last season. Randle and McFadden have to get more than 3 yards a carry and Terrance Williams has to embrace his new role as the number 1 target. Dallas will most likely rely on its much-improved defense (yes its DEFENSE is the most reliable source at this point) in order to control games. If Dallas can make it to Thanksgiving at least 4-4, expect the team to somehow make the playoffs in the much-maligned NFC East.