Cowboys: Why They Still Have A Shot


The Dallas Cowboys improved to 2-0 against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday despite losing quarterback Tony Romo to a fractured collar bone.

The easy thing to do is to look at the growing list of significant injuries sustained by the Dallas Cowboys and just write the whole season off as a failure.

Highlighted by losing wide receiver Dez Bryant in the season opener against the New York Giants last week, injury issues have been greatly compounded by the loss of quarterback Tony Romo against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

How can the Cowboys possibly compete moving ahead?

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The answer is simple:


Yes, that rebuilding unit that struggled so much in recent seasons is now a bona fide strength for the Cowboys – and it’s going to keep getting better, barring more injuries, of course.

In two games this season, a Dallas offense that was supposed to be among the best in the NFL has failed to deliver as much as expected.

You realize that in two games this season the Cowboys have scored exactly 12 points in two first halves? The breakdown equals Dan Bailey field goals in the opening two quarters of each game. The yardage and ball movement have been acceptable, but not much else.

What also jumps out is the fact that the defense, especially against the Eagles, has been playing at a pretty good level, and they’re playing better and better. Further, this unit seems to be improving without the presence of free-agent acquisition Greg Hardy, rookie pass-rush specialist Randy Gregory and cornerback Orlando Scandrick, the latter of whom will not return to action this season.

Now, the Cowboys defense isn’t exactly the second coming of the 1985 Chicago Bears. This is not to suggest that Dallas can march to a 12-4 record only because of its defense.

I will say that I, along with everyone else, don’t know that they can’t.

The foundation of any championship-caliber defense is strong play against the run. To this early point in the season, the Cowboys have yet to give up the century mark to either opponent. The Giants totaled 99 yards on Week 1, while the Eagles could only muster 7 on Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field – that’s right, seven.

Sorry, but given all the ridiculous media hype regarding the ‘DeMarco Murray vs. Dallas Cowboys’ mantra leading up to this game, I have to include this fun fact: Murray’s longest carry of the night went for 9 yards, yet he had just 2 for the game.

About that injury to Romo: History shows that with a solid ground game in place, a Cowboys backup quarterback can lead the way to the postseason.

In 1991, the Cowboys were staring another average season in the face when they traveled to Washington D.C. to face an undefeated Redskins team that would eventually win Super Bowl XXVI against the Buffalo Bills.

With a record of 6-5, the Cowboys could ill-afford another loss if the franchise had any realistic hope of reaching the playoffs for the first time since the Tom Landry era.

Not only did Dallas win this game, but they also lost starting quarterback Troy Aikman to a knee injury that would essentially keep him off the field for the remainder of the season. It was up to backup quarterback Steve Beuerlein to not only finish off the Redskins that day at RFK Stadium, but also to lead this team for the remaining four games of the regular season, which he did.

In fact, Beuerlein also won a playoff game at Chicago against the Bears in the Wild Card round of the NFC Playoffs.

To compare Weeden to Beuerlein is rather pointless, yet the task is quite similar, but with one key difference: Romo should return to the field this season, whereas Aikman wouldn’t do so during the regular season in ’91.

While Beuerlein is still remembered for his heroic run that season, the other part of the story was a Dallas defense that was great against the run that year. The Cowboys didn’t rush the passer well, but they could stuff the opposing running game.

Such is the case in 2015, some 24 seasons later.

But this time, the Cowboys aren’t waiting for Charles Haley to arrive the following season as a difference-maker for the defensive front.

This time the Cowboys have the likes of Hardy, Gregory and even middle linebacker Rolando McClain, all of which should arrive throughout October and well before Romo and Bryant return to the field.

Yes, the season just got much tougher for a Cowboys team that has lofty expectations for this season – but they do still have a shot at 2-0.

Next: Cowboys: Can Brandon Weeden Keep Them Alive?

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