It wasn’t just that the Dallas Cowboys have struggled the past two weeks and walked away 1-1, it’s the toll those struggles have taken on the Dallas roster. Injuries have befallen the Cowboys as of late and their lasting effects are becoming harder and harder to overcome.
The offensive line, defensive line, and secondary have all suffered significant losses the past two weeks. Some have return dates, while others leave indefinite holes Dallas will be hard-pressed to replace.
One such injury appeared to take place on Sunday afternoon when a key member of the linebacker corps fell to what could have been a career-ending injury.
The Dallas Cowboys feared the worst when Leighton Vander Esch exited the game with a possible neck injury
Vander Esch, a player with a history of neck injuries, was playing his best ball since his stellar rookie season. This season LVE’s been arguably the best linebacker on the Dallas Cowboys roster (Micah is not a linebacker no matter what the Cowboys want to call him) and main reason their run defense has surviving.
Without Leighton Vander Esch, things got ugly fast…
The Dallas Cowboys were quietly having a respectable stretch of run defense as of late. As Michael Gehlken pointed out, the previous four weeks the Dallas Cowboys were allowing 3.8 yards/carry (top-10 in the NFL). But after Leighton Vander Esch left the game, everything fell apart.
Neither Anthony Barr nor Damone Clark were able to pick up the slack and responsibilities once LVE left the field. Run fits went completely unfilled and the Jaguars ran amuck, averaging 7.1 yards/carry in an embarrassing come-from behind win that all but assured the Eagles the NFC East crown.
Reported as a neck injury, the Cowboys were facing the harsh reality this could be the end of the road for their former first round pick. One more neck surgery would very likely signal an end to his once-promising career.
So when the news broke on Monday that LVE’s injury was a shoulder stinger and NOT the neck injury everyone feared, a collective exhale echoed through the halls in Frisco.
The Dallas Cowboys are devoid of reliable talent at LB making LVE and integral piece to their defensive puzzle. Clark is a rookie, Jabril Cox is raw, and Anthony Barr is unreliable in many ways (nicest way I can put that). For as scary as it sounds, LVE is the Dallas Cowboys LB corps this season and Dallas is ill-equipped to handle his loss
The Dallas Cowboys will live to fight another day because Leighton Vander Esch received fantastic injury news yesterday. Is he a perfect player? Of course not but he’s having a really good season and there aren’t many suitable options behind him so this news is most significant.