Well, we all know the situation. Week 17, win and in. After going 5-2 at home, the optimism was high because Dallas was finally getting to play a crucial game at home. Then disaster struck. Romo out. Season over. Can we just forfeit week 17?
Dallas is not out of this game yet. Yes, Dallas will be hard pressed to win. Yes, the chances of Kyle Orton leading Dallas to a victory on Sunday Night is as improbable as the Dolphins making a serious Super Bowl run. But with the right game planning, some big performances, and some luck, Dallas can keep this game open for them to win.
Here are some keys to win the game: (Note: these are not the conventional broad keys everyone already knows like Run the ball, Blitz, etc..These are a bit more in depth of what Dallas can do to steal the crown)
-Bryant on the back shoulder fade: We've seen that incredible back shoulder fade to Bryant lead to quite a few Touchdowns. However, I don't think Dallas has been using it enough recently. Look. Bryant is a great receiver who has some of the best ball skills around. Everytime Dallas gets close to the goal line, they need to give Bryant at least a chance on the back shoulder. The Eagles receivers are not big enough to stop Bryant and he can score multiple times with that deadly jump ball. Dallas needs to continue to throw to Bryant when they get in the redzone and allow him to beat the Eagles defensive backs and make those tough catches to stay in the game. Those sorts of throws will also give Orton confidence later in the game.
-Cole Beasley: Dallas needs to make Beasley a staple on this offense starting with week 17. I don't mean one or two catches; I mean give him an opportunity to grab that ball at least 4-7 times and move the chains. Beasley is incredible out of the slot and I don't think any receiver on the roster is as great on the quick slant as Beasley. He has ultra consistent hands (dare I say it, the best hands in Dallas) and has made tough catches for first downs against tight coverage all year. Between the 20's, Beasley is dangerous and Dallas should put him on the field often. Look for Beasley to have the best game of his career to keep Dallas in the game on offense.
-Screen passes to Bryant: Bryant needs to have at least 7-8 receptions in this game, and a few of those should come on screens. At times when Orton is struggling, the screen pass can be a miracle. Bryant did a good job last week on the final drive with that screen. Bryant is the toughest offensive player to tackle in Dallas, and with that big body against smaller defensive backs, the screen game could be dangerous. Also, the screen pass will help Orton greatly to get pressure off. Any QB can execute that pass and as soon as Bryant gets on a roll, he becomes a bowling ball who won't go down. Lets see some more of that plowing ahead with Bryant on the screens.
-Orlando Scandrick Nickel Blitzes: A basic defensive idea this week is that Dallas needs to put pressure on Foles, and to do that, Dallas needs to blitz. That's true, but I'm not sure blitzing with the linebackers is a good idea. If they miss on a carry by McCoy, that could spell a big touchdown run. Instead, I would love to actually see Scandrick rush the passer more than once. He is fast and tenacious, and would rattle Foles. I enjoy seeing Scandrick blitz and think he can make some plays. Maybe he can even force a fumble?
-Gavin Escobar in the Redzone: Like Bryant, Dallas needs to use their rookie tight end Gavin Escobar when they get into scoring range. Escobar is big and can also make those tough catches in the endzone. Against an undersized defensive backfield, sending in redzone threats can be magical. That takes the heat off of Murray while giving Orton some easy targets.
Optimistic Prediction: Orton has great game management, never needing to throw for more than 220 yards. Murray has clean up duty on the ground as Bryant connects on a touchdown as well as a clutch play by Dwayne Harris. The Eagles offense doesn't have the ball long enough to be as dangerous as they thought, and in the face of adversity, Dallas is able to come through. The crowd rattles the Eagles and Dallas, with a great team effort, wins 31-24.
Orton: 22/35, 220 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Bryant: 8 rec, 80 yards, TD
Beasley: 4 rec, 60 yards
Williams: 4 rec, 50 yards, TD
Harris: 2 rec, 15 yards, TD
Pessimistic Prediction: Orton doesn't play a bad game, but his rust from starting is evident as he throws two interceptions and just can't make the plays Romo does. This limits Bryant who only has a paltry 4 receptions and the other playmakers on the team don't get their chance. Murray has a great first half, but looking to get back in the game, Dallas has to air it out and it does not work out for Orton. Dallas trails early, and the Eagles lead grows throughout the game. Philly, 40-17
Orton: 18/40, 230 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
Murray: 14 rush, 70 yards, TD
Bryant: 3 rec, 40 yards
Final Verdict: I really wanna say Dallas finds a way to win. However, this defense is not up to the task. Orton and the run game play well, keeping Dallas in the contest but the defense allows a back breaking score at the end. Everyone realizes Romo has not been the problem with this team, rather the defense and the coaching as Dallas falls, 35-27.