Dallas Cowboys: Rest for the weary or play to win the game?

Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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The Dallas Cowboys are faced with the difficult to decision whether to rest and get healthy for the postseason or press on and try to play better #RustvsRest

The “rust vs rest” debate has been dividing Dallas Cowboys fans for eons. On one hand you want to continue the momentum and roll into the postseason at full speed. On the other hand you want your players fresh for when it counts and want to use this opportunity to rest the battered and bruised.

Having a playoff seed locked up is what we call “a good problem”. It means the stress has been temporarily relieved and the future has been temporarily ensured. Just ask the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles if they’d rather be in Dallas’ position or their own. After the expected dig on the Dallas Cowboys, you can bet they’ll take a guaranteed playoff spot over a win-or-go-home scenario any day.

But while this is undeniably a good problem, it’s still a problem. A problem a maligned head coach like Jason Garrett can’t win.

Rest

This is the logical choice. If there’s nothing to play for then this is a situation where there’s 100% risk and 0% reward. The Dallas Cowboys won the division and locked in the fourth seed. Nothing that happens on Sunday can change that.

This is the perfect time to rest the walking injured like OT Tyron Smith and OG Zack Martin. It’s an excuse to give their beaten up workhorse, Ezekiel Elliott, a much needed break. It’s also a chance to get Cole Beasley’s ankle some rest and Dak Prescott’s foot reprieve. We can even rest our season’s savior, Amari Cooper. Don’t want him enduring any needless wear and tear.

The Dallas Cowboys are winners of six of the last seven games. That may sound like they’re a well-oiled machine but anyone watching the games can see this is far from well-oiled.

Heck, since the game is meaningless, we don’t want to risk injury to DeMarcus Lawrence, or Randy Gregory, or the Leighton Vander Esch/Jaylon Smith combo.

All of this would give us a chance to see some Darius Jackson (which we’ve so longed for), some Jourdan Lewis (as nickel CB), Taco Charlton, Dornace Armstrong Jr. I wouldn’t mind seeing a ton of Noah Brown, Rico Gathers, and Tavon Austin this week either.

Basically, this could be a fourth preseason game.

Reward

Technically, there is no tangible reward. But there’s a whole lotta intangible in the NFL that goes into winning. As I discussed a few weeks back, locking the playoffs up early is dangerous. And it’s what doomed the Dallas Cowboys back in 2016 when they essentially took the last two weeks off (if you include their bye week), only to show up ice cold and out of sync against the red hot Green Bay Packers. The result was a horrendous start against a team you couldn’t afford to give a head start to.

Could that be what happens again this season? Seattle wants to win this week. Obviously the Eagles and Vikings do as well. Whoever the Cowboys face will have some degree of momentum on their side. Are the Dallas Cowboys good enough to overcome a team firing on all cylinders?

Which brings me to my next point: The Dallas Cowboys are winners of six of the last seven games. That may sound like they’re a well-oiled machine but anyone watching the games can see this is far from well-oiled.

The defense may inspire some confidence but the offense should inspire no one. Looking at Week 17, The Cowboys have a chance to GET BETTER ON THE FIELD if they play. They also have a chance at suffering a needless injury…

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Verdict

It may seem like I’m trying to lead you somewhere but the truth is I’ve been wrestling with this situation for weeks. If the offense and defense were playing at peak levels, I’d have no problem mailing the game in. But this team needs to get better because it’s much harder to win ugly games in the postseason than it is in the regular season.

On the flipside, the Dallas Cowboys are beaten up. Tyron, Zack, Bease, and Zeke are all noticeably limping. It would be preposterous to make them play knowing they could use this week to get better.

At the end of the day, the only good answer will be found in hindsight. I’m inclined to rest the fellas mentioned in the paragraph above and give limited work to Tank and Randy on the edges. Despite the limited protection, I’m going to insist Dak plays and keeps working on chemistry with Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin. More work for the tight ends seems like a good idea as well (who have been playing wonderfully the last three week).

Next. Why Tavon Austin will be an enormous boost to the offense. dark

What do you think Cowboys Nation? Is it rest or rust? Or are you walking the line like me and doing a little bit of both? Sound off in the comments and discuss!

  • Published on 12/27/2018 at 13:01 PM
  • Last updated at 12/27/2018 at 11:49 AM