Prior to the start of training camp in Oxnard, I wrote an article about seven players the Dallas Cowboys needed to have a season comparable to their 2016 campaign. The premise was that if those said players were not playing up to par or were not on the field for an extended period of time, the Cowboys would suffer.
Of the seven players I mentioned in that article from June, four haven’t been on the field for the Boys in the last few weeks. And the other three? Well, let’s revisit some excerpts from that article and compare notes, shall we?
“It’s been a few years since we’ve seen the ‘chip on my shoulder,’ ‘me against the world’ mentality from the veteran corner… Scandrick’s return to true form is exactly what the secondary needs to succeed.”
I still believe a veteran presence is needed in the secondary. And I still believe they are better when Scandrick is at his best. We saw it with his big game against the Redskins and we saw it in the few games he missed due to injury. The grit and the mentality are still there, thank goodness, but he has to keep his play consistent.
“We’ve experienced life without Sean Lee on the field, and I don’t think we realized how much we missed him until recently.”
I think we realize it again. Owner Jerry Jones said Lee is ruled out for Thursday’s Thanksgiving game against the Los Angeles Chargers due to a hamstring injury. So far, the Cowboys are 0-4 without Lee. Very telling.
Meanwhile, linebacker Anthony Hitchens is expected to play Thursday, which could prove extremely helpful for the defense in Lee’s absence. Hitchens suffered a minor groin strain in Sunday night’s game against the Eagles, but he says it’s “so small you can’t even call it a strain.”
“Dan Bailey is clutch defined… the Cowboys can continue to sleep easy knowing they have someone ready to drill points on the board in prime moments.”
While Bailey is forever clutch defined in my book, the Cowboys have fared ok without him… minus a few scares here and there. When the veteran kicker went down with a groin injury in Week 7, Safety Jeff Heath blew all of the minds, stepped up in Bailey’s absence and pretty much nailed it. Mike Nugent has since taken the reigns, but there’s no replacing a guy like Bailey.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 22, 2017
“The last time we saw a healthy Dez Bryant play all 16 games was in 2014. He scored a career-high, 16 touchdowns and logged over 1000 yards for the third straight year. He was limited last year, and the Cowboys still won 13 games. Just imagine the places they could go with a 100 percent Bryant.”
Well… it doesn’t look to be very far. Even with a somewhat healthy season, Dez hasn’t been able to crack a 100-yard receiving game. The Dak Prescott-Dez connection hasn’t really… connected, and the receiving corps is just blah right now. Perhaps I was reaching in mentioning the Dez of 2014, because he may be long gone.
“No slumping over here.”
It’s my fault. I jinxed it. I shouldn’t have said it, and I’m sorry. But it’s not necessarily a slump. More of a mild slide downward. Dak Prescott did very little wrong in his rookie campaign. This season, he’s done a lot more wrong. Granted, his offensive line isn’t as solid as it once was and his best man Ezekiel Elliott is absent. The guy has a lot on his shoulders. He hasn’t been as sharp as usual, and that was evident in Sunday Night’s game.
“Because where would Prescott be without Tyron Smith protecting his blind side?”
Sacked six times by Atlanta Falcons’ defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Yikes. The Cowboys have been without the All-Pro left tackle for the last two weeks due to an injury and it’s been scary. Fortunately, there’s a chance that he could play Thursday.
“Historically, the Cowboys offense has been defined by the running game. That hasn’t changed. If Elliott lives up to his own expectations, the Cowboys will be a force in 2017.”
The Dallas Cowboys are sitting at 5-5, second in the NFC East and fighting for a spot in the playoffs. At this point, the “next man up” mentality won’t cut it when assessing how to replace key players. (See Chaz Green and Byron Bell.) Now, it’s up to the coaching staff to assess who and what they have talent wise, and place those players in positions to excel. Fast.