Friday on a bye week just doesn't have that same feel. The anticipation for the upcoming game on the weekend isn't there, but we can always root for teams ahead of us to lose. For once though, I'm not complaining about the bye week because we certainly need it. There's some discussion going in the Dallas media about Wade Phillips' approach to the bye week being too soft; piling on a regular theme we hear about the current head coach. In the case of Wade's approach being too soft in general...I think that's an open debate. But I would argue that giving the players plenty of time off this week is not being too soft, but being just right.
When things are going poorly in life, taking some time off to reflect and recharge can be of great benefit. Upon return from a break there can be two general reactions. One - the one we certainly don't want - is "Oh no, I'm back at this and all the problems are still here." That one would doom this team but I don't think that will be the feeling among the players. The other reaction is "OK, we can't do anything about the past, but we can change our future, let's get it done." That's the kind of feeling I expect out of this Cowboys team.
The players who were not injured or just nicked-up will have some days to let their bodies heal and let their minds clear out some of the negativity of the first-half of the season. That is one good, general benefit. Also helping in the rejuvenation will be the return of some key players on the injured list. Just knowing that some of these guys will be back on the field can give the whole team a mental boost, and of course, a real boost on the actual playing field. No name looms larger in that return than that of Tony Romo.
On Wednesday, quarterback Tony Romo said he expects to play against the Redskins.
Romo can't be the savior all on his own but there is no denying the effect he will have on the offensive production of this team. That production spills over into all kinds of areas. The defense benefits from having an offense that can put together sustained drives thus saving them from tiring out because they are on the field too much. If Romo can get this offense to put points on the board, that puts pressure on opposing teams to match that pace which can lead to mistakes and turnovers. Romo can't do it all by himself, but his mere presence and production should give the whole team a serious psychological boost. Romo talks about his injury here.
Also returning - at least they say they are returning - are a few other key pieces to the puzzle.
Later on, guard Kyle Kosier said he is also figuring to return for [the Redskins] game.
Head coach Wade Phillips said Thursday he thought Felix Jones would start practicing again next week, with a good chance to play.
And now, add Terence Newman to that list as well.
The offensive line has been a shell of its former self lately, some of that may be due to the absence of Romo's mobility from the playing field. In truth though, they were having problems before Romo's injury and the one major change this year from last has been Kyle Kosier. We used to knock him as the weak link, I don't think I'll fall into that trap again. We'll see what he brings to the table upon his return.
The absence of El Gato has robbed this offense of the homerun threat in the running game. It's also caused us to be a little one-dimensional in the run game because MB3 is not a guy defenses fear on the outside. Even though he picked up some good gains on sweeps last week, that's probably because the defense was pinching in to cover the between-the-tackles area, MB3's bread-and-butter. With El Gato available, defenses must protect horizontally across the whole field allowing the offense more room to work.
During this bye week, Wade is giving a couple of the veteran linemen a break, including Flozell Adams who seems to need it more than anybody else on the team.
Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips rested the two veteran offensive linemen during Thursday's final practice of the week. [Flozell] Adams is taking antibiotics to treat an infected finger, and [Leonard] Davis is dealing with a sprained foot. Neither injury is considered serious.
The bye week is also beneficial to one other group of players, the rookies. These guys have never played a full NFL season and generally start hitting the "rookie wall" right about now.
Never has a bye week been so beneficial to one team. Let's hope they take advantage of it to the fullest.