The Dallas Cowboys streak of bad luck seems to be extending into the offseason. And the folks over at NFL.com have certainly taken notice. In an article published on Friday, two different writers for the league’s site singled out the Cowboys as losers of the minicamp season. And for two separate reasons: The loss of their starting middle linebacker Sean Lee to a season-ending injury. And, what is turning out to be, the Kyle Orton debacle.
NFL.com writer Gregg Rosenthal claims that the loss of Lee will be felt by this struggling defense the entire year.
“Dallas’ defensive overhaul had plenty of challenges before losing Sean Lee to another devastating injury. Now they looked destined to be mediocre at best…In today’s NFL, linebackers that excel on passing downs come at a premium…Most OTA stories are overblown, but (this loss) will reverberate all season.”
The loss of the Cowboys defensive leader was a devastating blow. But it is not a loss that the team wasn’t already prepared for. In fact, Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens was drafted earlier this year in part due to the injury-prone history of Lee. Unfortunately, this new injury happened so quickly that Hitchens hasn’t had time to gain any NFL experience. It’s simply unrealistic to think he can fill that starting position right now. Instead, veteran Justin Durant has moved to the middle and looks to be bring some stability to this young linebacker corps.
Fellow NFL.com writer Marc Sessler followed joined Rosenthal calling the Cowboys minicamp season losers, but for an entirely different reason: The absence of their back-up quarterback.
“Kyle Orton and the Cowboys: The will-he-or-won’t-he shenanigans are tiresome. Instead of reaching a clear-cut decision about his playing future months ago, Orton is “strongly considering retirement” while holding the Cowboys hostage. Upshot? Dallas is one Tony Romo back spasm away from Brandon Weeden as its starter. Orton’s hemming and hawing — mostly over money — played a part in Dallas failing to aggressively find a proven veteran backup.”
The Orton situation is certainly perplexing. But I’m not sure it justifies the Cowboys being considered as losers of the offseason. One, Orton could still show up at any point. And two, what NFL team wouldn’t be in trouble if they lost their starting quarterback? Honestly, I do think there are worse options sitting behind starters on other NFL teams then Brandon Weeden.
Certainly, these situations are not ideal for any NFL team. But the fact is, in the absence of both Lee and Orton, younger prospects have gotten more time to develop in their place. And ultimately, that fact should benefit this team at some point down the line.
As a long time fan and follower of the Cowboys, this really just seems like the status quo for this franchise. Every team struggles with their obstacles. And these are just ours.