Through the first 6 weeks of the season Sean Lee was arguably the Cowboys best player. There is no question the loss of Lee will impact the defense’s production and play. He’s just that important to Rob Ryan’s unit. So Garrett and the Cowboys face an existential crisis so to speak. What do they do?
Drastic times call for drastic measures, and in my opinion, Garrett must dramatically rethink his entire philosophy about the Cowboys identity. There is evidence through 6 games that Garrett has developed a deeper trust in Ryan’s defensive unit and elevated the role he sees the defense playing in the team’s identity. Garrett's game-planning and play calling could be viewed as reshaping the team’s identity into a very conservative, defensive-minded team that plays very low risk small-ball.
My belief is that with the loss of Lee this identity must change in order for the Cowboys to succeed moving forward. It’s time for Garrett to open up this offense, put the pedal down, and go for broke offensively. I feel strongly it’s the only way overcome the loss of Sean Lee and win moving forward. And there is reason to believe this approach can be successfull if Garrett is willing to be more aggressive. According to Jonathan Bales of DCTimes.com, this season Romo has posted a 114.6 passer rating on throws beyond 20 yards and the percentage of TD throws on those deep passes is nearly 6 times higher than short or intermediate passes.
The team scored an average of 23.1 points last year. They’re down to 18.8 points per game this season. The defense is allowing 22.2 PPG. That scoring gap is not a formula for success; it's a problem on speed-dial. The most reasonable pathway to closing that gap, now that the team is without its most productive defensive player, is through more aggressive play calling and higher scoring production.
It’s up to Garrett to take the gloves off his offense. Garrett will have to become less obsessive about run/pass balance, be willing to live with Romo being who is…a gunslinger, and start dialing up big-play downfield passes and get the team some easy touchdowns. It will fire this team up, take some pressure off the defense, and man wouldn't it be awesome to see what this defense can do when playing with an early lead? After such an emotional letdown with the loss of Lee the team needs a boost of energy and more importantly they need more points. 9 routes and skinny posts are just what the doctor ordered for this team. Queue up the Rocky theme song. Let’s come out swinging against the Giants JG!!!