After underwhelming in their first five regular season contests, the Dallas Cowboys need to shake things up in order to compete for a playoff spot.
The Dallas Cowboys go into their bye week with a bevy of question marks. After a heart-wrenching last-second loss to the Green Bay Packers, Big D looks like it needs to make some changes across the board.
Here are five possible solutions to some of their woes.
1. Replace Jaylon Smith in the starting lineup with Anthony Hitchens
There’s no doubt that Jaylon Smith‘s ascension onto the Dallas Cowboy’s starting defense has been an inspiring storyline, but good things sometimes must come to an end. Smith hasn’t been nearly as effective on the first unit since his impressive Week One debut, and it’s evident the second-year linebacker isn’t ready for a starting gig quite yet.
The Cowboys chose to sit Smith on the final defensive drive of the game against Green Bay, which was telling. It was clear Smith struggled against both the run and the pass last Sunday, and with a soon-to-be fully healthy linebacking duo in Sean Lee and Anthony Hitchens, Smith should come off the bench for Dallas after the bye.
2. Start Chidobe Awuzie at Strong Safety
Jeff Heath deserved to win the starting strong safety job to start the year, but so far, he has undoubtedly underwhelmed. On a Dallas defense devoid of consistent playmakers, the Cowboys should consider starting the rookie Chidobe Awuzie alongside Byron Jones in the defensive backfield.
The Cowboys have said they have begun to give Awuzie his majority of practice snaps at safety, so look for the staff to slowly make the much-needed transition from Heath to the rookie following the bye.
3. Expand Brice Butler’s Role
Terrance Williams had one of the biggest gaffs during Dallas’ loss to Green Bay, and most Cowboys fans would agree it’s far from a shock to see the receiver make a bone-headed mistake. Williams hasn’t necessarily been one of the more cerebral players on offense since drafted by the ‘Boys back in 2013, and to say he’s been inconsistent is an understatement.
Brice Butler has made some big plays for the Cowboys this year and the receiver appears to have a good rapport with quarterback Dak Prescott. And as a bonafide deep threat, he also seems to fit better opposite of Dez Bryant. The switch should be a no-brainer for Garrett and the rest of the Cowboys coaching staff, but they may not feel inclined to make a change after five games. However, they need to at least consider it.
4. Settle on a Left Guard
Chaz Green started the first three games for the Cowboys before injuring his hip, and Dallas has started former first-round pick Jonathan Cooper in the ensuing contests. While the Cowboys seem to prefer Green as the starter, the offensive line did actually appear to improve their run blocking with Cooper starting the last two games.
Garrett said the position will remain a competition for the rest of the season, but for continuity reasons, it should end after the bye. Garrett needs to make a final decision to ensure the offensive line plays in unison for the rest of the season.
5. Start Blitzing More
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has never been a fan of blitzing, but that needs to come to an end after the Cowboy’s bye. While Dallas did get David Irving back last week, and he provided the Cowboys with two sacks upon his return, they need to start getting to the QB more consistently.
While one could argue it would be risky to blitz with a shaky defensive backfield, I’ve always been a firm believer that the pressure up front can help your secondary look better. Regardless of your personal defensive philosophy, the Cowboys clearly need to shake up their schemes, and right now, blitzing seems like the only reasonable way.