Wednesday, September 23, 2015
The Dallas Cowboys have the lead of the NFC East at 2-0. This undefeated start came at a heavy price for the team. The organization lost both their starting quarterback Tony Romo to a broken clavicle for 8 weeks and their starting wide receiver Dez Bryant to a broken foot for 8-12 weeks. The question now becomes can the Cowboys maintain their hold of the division lead without their most coveted players? Let’s look at the issues stacked against them for that to remain possible.
First off there is back-up quarterback Brandon Weeden. Weeden was once a highly touted college quarterback coming out of Oklahoma State. He was drafted in the first round number 22 overall in 2012 by the Cleveland Browns where he lasted for just two seasons. He was then signed by the Cowboys where he enters his second season as Tony Romo’s back-up. Weeden is a mediocre quarterback with a career passer rating of 73.4 who has thrown more INTs (28) then touchdowns (27) in his career. He is not known for his scrambling ability or his pocket presence. He is not wily as Romo which is needed in this upcoming stretch of games facing tough defenses in the Falcons, Giants, Patriots and Seahawks.
This would be less of a factor if the team had kept running back DeMarco Murray but this team is relying on the legs of Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden. Randle has managed to scramble for 116 yards on 34 carries over 2 games. Dunbar has rushed for 8 yards on 1 carry and McFadden has rushed for 47 yards on 16 carries. Only Randle has managed to score a touchdown. This means that play option fake is not an option when the Cowboys lack a quality running back to fake an option to.
This brings us to the wide receivers, which will have to step-up to replace Bryant during his time on IR. Cole Beasley enters his fourth year with the team where he has managed to score six touchdowns for his whole career. So far this season he’s managed 8 receptions for 63 yards and 0 touchdowns. Terrance Williams enters his third year with the team where he has scored 14 touchdowns over his short career so far. This season he has 9 receptions for 144 yards and 1 touchdown. However, his lone touchdown came in the first game of the season while Bryant was still the first option. Williams is a moderate second option but as the first option behind a second-rate quarterback, this team will not have the same scoring ability, even with the top offensive line in the league. Facing those factors, this team will struggle to find an identity and maintain their strangle hold on the division lead until the return of Romo around week 11 against the Dolphins. While the Eagles have yet to find a cohesiveness, and the Redskins have issues on their offensive line, the Giants may be able to play a factor is overtaking that lead. Weeden and the team must find a way to keep this team in the win column or this team that was once predicted to be a Super Bowl contender will be struggling to even make the playoffs as a wild card by season's end.