Dallas Cowboys: Who Picks up the Slack?


The Dallas Cowboys have a solution for the next 8 weeks, and it doesn’t involve relying on Brandon Weeden.

Is all hope now on Brandon Weeden? Nope. No. Negative. While there will be all sorts of things written about Brandon Weeden and how he must lead the Dallas Cowboys until Tony Romo returns, all hope isn’t on Weeden. Instead, the Dallas Cowboys plan to use their real strengths as a crutch during these dark day ahead.

Some talk about how the Cowboys will lean on their dominant offensive line more. They will run the ball more, throw more slant routes, and supplement check-downs and screens. Some will bring up how special teams could carry the load. The Cowboys have a great punt block unit, a great kicker, and promising returners. Maybe they can carry the load?

More from Dallas Cowboys

Or maybe we should talk about how great the defense is playing. The top-5 defense could carry the load for the Dallas Cowboys by shutting down offenses and creating turnovers. All of these are decent ideas, but none of them are solutions. It will take more than just the defense and more than simply getting the run game going. Special teams can’t do it on their own either.

This will need to be a team effort using all three phases. Here is this week’s Three Ups and Three Downs for this game.

Dallas Cowboys Three Ups

1. The Defense Showed Up – One could argue how terrible the Eagles offense has been, but let’s give credit where credit is due – the defense. The Cowboys defense was absolutely dominant. Sean Lee was everywhere. He was in the backfield one moment, then he was in the secondary the next. He was making plays everywhere. The interception was just insane, and he seemed to know every play the Eagles were about to run. But there was more than Sean Lee. The secondary didn’t give Sam Bradford much time to throw to. If the defense can keep this play up until Greg Hardy, Rolando McClain, and Randy Gregory return, Dallas won’t need a lot from Weeden.

2. Special Teams Were Special – While there wasn’t amazing returns, the blocked punt gives hope that the special teams can help the Dallas Cowboys for the next eight or so games. The return game just needs a few good holes and they can flip the field for the offense and make things much easier on Weeden.

3. Footballs for Everybody! – It is obvious that the Dallas Cowboys will spread the ball around while Dez Bryant is out. The best thing about this is that it gives Weeden a lot of weapons and options to throw to. If Jason Garrett decides to be more conservative with Weeden running the offense, there are still enough options that defenses will struggle with.

Dallas Cowboys Three Downs

1. EIGHTEEN! – It is just silly how many penalties the Dallas Cowboys had. I actually had less problem with Dan Bailey grabbing DeMarco Murray‘s arm than I did with the insane amounts of false starts. This game should have never even been a ten point game. If the line can tighten up the false starts, it should give Weeden manageable field position.

2. Run The Ball – The running game still was not as effective as it should be. It seemed  Darren McFadden looked to be stronger, but neither RB impressed enough to show that the running game is where we all thought it would be. This will be a key if the Dallas Cowboys are to win with Weeden at the helm.

3. Pressure, Yet Not – While the Dallas Cowboys seemed to be constantly in the backfield on run plays, it was not so in passing situations. Again, when Hardy, McClain, and Gregory return this should change. It will be vital for Rod Marinelli to get more pressure on quarterbacks if the Dallas Cowboys are going to rely on the defense to carry them.

So looking at the positives and negatives, it gives a blueprint of how the Dallas Cowboys can win over the next few weeks without relying too much on Brandon Weeden.

Much of the onus will fall on the defense to stop the other team. If they can continue to be dominant, and allow the special teams to flip the field, or at least give good starting positions, the offense won’t need to be driving 80 and 90 yards every drive.

It will be a true team effort to get the Dallas Cowboys through the next eight weeks. If they can split them they will be 6-4 when Romo returns. With how much of a mess the NFC East is, that should be enough to either be in first place, or at least be close enough to take it.

Next: Dallas Cowboys: Why They Still Have a Shot

More from Sports Dallas Fort-Worth