When things go bad, you hope they just don’t get worse. Well things just got a lot worse for the Cowboys. Dallas just entered crisis mode.
Week one saw Dallas’ leading receiver Dez Bryant suffer a major foot injury that required surgery. Bryant, who just signed a five-year $70 million contract this offseason, is rumored to miss anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks with the injury. The number seems to be up in the air.
That was catastrophic for the Cowboys. Bryant accounted for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns a season ago. That loss was not ideal but then the unthinkable happened.
He dropped back, he turned to scramble and he lost the ball. He then received a crushing hit that drove his left shoulder into the ground. Tony Romo didn’t get up for a while after that. The Dallas medical staff charged onto the field. Romo eventually walked off under his own power, holding his arm gingerly.
It looked bad and it is no doubt that Romo will miss some extended time. He has been officially diagnosed with a broken left clavicle. No timeline has been set yet but when Romo broke his right clavicle a couple of years back, he missed 10 weeks of the season.
Dallas cannot afford to lose Romo for 10 weeks this year. That paired with the injury to Bryant is going to cripple this offense for the most part. The offensive line is still great and the combo of Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar can lead the running game but the passing game is as good as dead. Brandon Weeden is the only other quarterback the Cowboys have on the roster at the moment. That is far from a reassuring thing.
Weeden in his career has been mediocre at best. He started his career in Cleveland, but that was short-lived as his reputation for committing turnovers lost him the job. In 28 career games, Weeden has 28 interceptions and 12 fumbles. That is not exactly reassuring for your starting quarterback. It is hard to say those days are behind him either. He played great in relief of Romo but in the only game he started last season, Weeden threw two interceptions, fumbled once and completed only 55 percent of his passes.
Even if Jerry Jones and the Dallas coaching staff thinks Weeden is the man for them to start next week against Atlanta, they are going to need to sign another quarterback. Someone needs to back up Weeden next weekend.
Matt Flynn is among the names that will float out. He has had some success as a starter in Green Bay and could be a good back up. Kyle Orton is officially retired but Dallas could coax him off his couch. He has a lot of experience as a spot starter all over the league and actually played for the Cowboys as recently as 2013. One last option that might appeal to Dallas would be bringing Dustin Vaughn back. He was signed by the Cowboys in 2014 as an undrafted free agent so he has some familiarity with the team already and looked good at times in the preseason.
The Cowboys brought in Brice Butler already from the Raiders at receiver and will continue to rely even more heavily on Terrance Williams. I already mentioned the running backs. Dallas will need to work hard to establish the run early and often going forward. With all of the options they have at running back, which will eventually include Christine Michael, Dallas should be able to alternate them to keep everyone fresh and have a solid ground game.
Despite being 2-0, Dallas has to feel like it is in a major rut at the moment. Losing your top receiver and starting quarterback in a two-week span is not something many teams are able to overcome. Looking past the Atlanta game, the Cowboys have a winnable game against the Saints before hosting the defending Patriots. Following its bye, Dallas heads to New York for a rematch with the Giants. Then the Seahawks visit Big D. That is a very tough slate for the Cowboys.
Dallas could find a way to weather the storm but that is unlikely. With the Cowboys sliding, and both Philly and New York sitting at 0-2, Washington suddenly seems to be in a good spot. This division is an absolute toss-up the rest of the way.
If Dallas has any hopes of finishing on top of the pile, it needs to find a couple of new offensive weapons. Bryant and Romo will eventually be back but until then, Dallas will have a tough time making ends meet.