Dallas Cowboys actually harder to gameplan for without Dez Bryant?


When the Dallas Cowboys announced their Pro Bowl wide recevier Dez Bryant would miss significant time this season due to a foot injury suffered in Sunday night’s victory over the New York Giants, most believed the Cowboys offense would struggle because of it. And that certainly makes sense.

As one of the top offensive threats in the game, the extra attention Bryant garners from opposing defenses frees up other Cowboys players to excel. So without that threat on the field, you’d imagine defensive coordinators are actually able to do much more against Dallas.

But according to one of the Cowboys who should benefit from Bryant’s absence, not having the All-Pro receiver on the field could actually make things more complicated for opposing defenses.

"“I think they will be more confused because they don’t what we’re going to do right now,” Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar told SportsDayDFW.com. “Dez is definitely a big game plan guy…So I think it’s almost to our advantage…He has a lot of targets every game and those targets are going to go elsewhere. I’ll take advantage of all of those opportunities that come my way.”"

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The Cowboys certainly have plenty of offense targets that will be expected to pick up the slack in Bryant’s absence. Last week, running back Lance Dunbar had a stellar game as a receiver out of the backfield, recording a team-high eight receptions for 70 yards. I fully expect another name to come out of nowhere to have an offensive impact for the Cowboys this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

And there are plenty of names to choose from. Wide receivers Terrance Williams, Devin Street, Cole Beasley and rookie Lucky Whitehead will all be asked to step up their game in wake of Bryant’s injury. Expect tight ends Jason Witten, Escobar and James Hanna to get in on the action as well. Then there’s the running backs, Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and the aforementioned Dunbar. All three had big receptions last week and should continue to do so in Bryant’s absence.

The truth is the Cowboys have a plethora of offensive weapons. But a player like Bryant changes the way defenses play Dallas. Without that required double-team, opposing defensive coordinators now have an extra defender to use however they wish. Whether that’s in coverage and adding another player to the box to counter the run, defenses have more options without Bryant on the field too.

Still, Escobar does have a point. Without Bryant as part of the equation, the Cowboys could literally go in any direction on any play. So, you could see how that could make things a little more complicated for defensive coordinators. At the same time, I’m sure those same coaches are more than happy to have a talent like Dez off the field. So, let the chess match begin.

Next: Five Cowboys that must step up with Dez Bryant out