Dallas Cowboys fans can R-E-L-A-X despite key injuries


While the Dallas Cowboys were able to get a thrilling, last-second win over the division rival New York Giants this past Sunday night, it came with a heavy cost. Star wide receiver Dez Bryant, offensive lineman Ronald Leary, and defensive end Randy Gregory were injured that night, and all are expected to miss games.

There is an initial instinct as a fan for fans to begin to worry in situations like this.

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After all, Dez brings double coverage and he is a phenomenal player, without a doubt. Gregory has been great in the preseason, and he performed well in this initial game, exerting the pressure on the quarterback that was expected of him. Leary is a part of the best offensive line in the NFL.

Without these guys on the field, the Cowboys are likely to struggle, right?

Not so fast.

Here are a handful of reasons to be optimistic after week 1, other than the most obvious (the Cowboys won):

  1. Dallas managed to score more points after Dez left the game than when he was playing. Granted, it’s tough to draw major conclusions from that, but quarterback Tony Romo was certainly able to find plenty of options when passing, with seven different receivers other than Bryant making catches.
  2. Romo was not sacked at all. The offensive line gave him time in the pocket, with little real pressure.
  3. The running backs garnered a collective 212 yards of rushing and receiving. The lead receiver was third string running back Lance Dunbar. with 70 yards.
  4. The Cowboys were #3 in offensive yardage in the NFL for week 1, with 436 yards gained. Dez only accounted for 49 yards.
  5. They solidly outplayed the Giants on both sides of the ball. Three turnovers and a few dropped passes kept things closer than they should have been, much like the game last year against the Seattle Seahawks.
  6. Linebacker and team captain Sean Lee showed up as expected, finishing with a team-high nine tackles. His pressure on quarterback Eli Manning during the last play for the Giants’ offense was a difference-maker.

Next week, the Cowboys will travel to face another division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Throughout the preseason, the Eagles were highly touted by many as the team most likely to win the NFC East. Former Dallas superstar and Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin even chose the Eagles to win, because they lured running back DeMarco Murray away from Dallas.

"“You cannot tell me and you cannot convince me that you can just stick anybody back there,” Irvin said. “If they had drafted a Melvin Gordon or a [Todd] Gurley, then there may be something. But with Darren McFadden? Maybe he’ll have some great things going but right now I would take Philadelphia and then Dallas.”"

Sorry, Mike, but signing DeMarco doesn’t represent a seismic power shift in the division.

As one small sample of evidence, please note Murray’s stats from his first regular season appearance in an Eagles uniform. He rushed eight times for nine yards.


He also caught one pass for 11 yards.

Eagles fans will point to the fact that he got two touchdowns, and this is true. Outside of those two plays, he netted exactly one yard. This does not and should not inspire confidence.

Keep in mind that this subpar performance by Murray came against the team that had the absolute worst defense in the NFL last season.

Dallas’ current starting running back, Joseph Randle, had 65 yards of rushing, which is more than all three Eagles’ back combined.

The Eagles are favored to win this next Sunday, but if the Cowboys can protect the ball, and Tony Romo, they will likely prevail. It will not be an easy task. Philadelphia will be motivated, and their fast-paced offense can score quickly if given the opportunity.

That being said, Dallas has a brilliant chance to send the Eagles into panic mode.

Why would they panic? Well, only one team has ever started 0-2 and won the Super Bowl, and that was the Cowboys back in 1993. They were without Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith for those two games. He held out for two weeks of the regular season to renegotiate his contract.

I don’t enjoy making public predictions, but if Dallas pulls off the victory Sunday, expect very good things this season. A win could propel them to more of the same, and give them a boost of confidence if they can do it while a few starters are nursing injuries.

Go Cowboys!

P.S. In fairness, Michael Irvin is still a huge Cowboys fan. You will enjoy watching his impassioned (and highly accurate) speech from Monday about Romo here:


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