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No Excuses – It’s Time For The Dallas Cowboys To Make Plays

Everyone seems so quick to write off this game against the Patriots and chalk it up to the insufficient funds. That’s not going to cut it. This Cowboys team has plenty of good players and they need to come out Sunday ready to fight.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of what you think about the New England Patriots, one thing is certain - this is a very smart and disciplined football team. They play good football on both sides of the ball. They work very well off of each other and are the epitome of team football. They are good because they have a substantial collection of good football players on the roster. They are good because Bill Belichick and company coach them up to be good football players.

The Dallas Cowboys are a good football team as well. You believe that, don't you? If doubt crept into your interior voice when you read that, then maybe you're not buying what I'm selling. After all, we all watched a not-so-good New Orleans Saints team outplay the Cowboys last week. It is perfectly understandable if you're not sure what type of football team we have with the 2015 Dallas Cowboys.

But as pieces are slowly brought back into the mix, the amount of good football will increase. And with two key players returning on Sunday, the time is now for the Cowboys to start recalculating and getting themselves back on track. In order to do that, they must get the most of their players. The team is still missing some of their fallen comrades, but they are equipped with enough resources to make the plays.

Defensive Tools

This season was supposed to bring excitement due to the improvement of the defense. Rod Marinelli finally had some dancing chips. The Cowboys young draft investments are developing nicely and looking sharp and the recent off-season acquisitions have given the defense some added fire power.

On the defensive front, this week's Cowboys team will be stronger than it has been all season. Greg Hardy, Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Jeremy Mincey will all be playing together for the first time. With this group, opponents won't have the luxury of double-teaming Crawford as all these players will demand attention from the offensive line. Tom Brady is very good about getting the ball out of his hands quickly so it will be hard to get any pressure on him, but if these four do their job, the back seven won't have to stand their ground forever.

At linebacker, the Cowboys are sitting in good shape. Sean Lee, Rolando McClain, and Anthony Hitchens will all be playing. With McClain making his season debut, his contribution is a little bit of an unknown, but any glimpses of his 2014 self is going to be a welcome addition to this team. With the Patriots style of offense, a lot of the snaps will only require two linebackers, so the Cowboys should be in good shape in keeping a fresh, talented rotation on the field.

Linebacker isn't the only position the Cowboys have a little extra to work with. The defense has four cornerbacks that should see a lot of action. With Morris Claiborne playing extremely well this season and Tyler Patmon a very serviceable slot corner, the secondary is in good shape. Whichever wide receiver Brandon Carr is covering won't be a big threat. Byron Jones should be called into action as the main piece in covering the Patriots biggest offensive weapon, Rob Gronkowski. The secondary will have their hands full, but there is some good quality within this group. And when the defensive line plays well, the secondary has been outstanding.

Offensive Resiliency

The brain trusts at Valley Ranch felt very comfortable with what the offense would look like without the NFL's leading rusher in the backfield. But a big old rusty wrench was thrown into the plans when the Cowboys lost both Dez Bryant and Tony Romo to injuries in the first two weeks. Just like that, the offensive meat and potatoes are gone. So now, the Cowboys are force-feeding fans this Hot Pocket offense which has left everyone's stomach turning.

Scott Linehan has a good history of utilizing the weapons he has had at his disposal. He's been successful with a run heavy offense. He's been successful with a pass heavy offense. It has all depended on what he's had to work with. So what exactly does he have right now in Dallas?

He has a great pass blocking offensive line.

He has a veteran savvy tight end that continues to find ways to get open.

He had a dime-stopping, slot receiver that is a difficult cover.

He had solid pass catching running backs.

And, are you ready for this one - he has the quarterback who has the highest completion percentage in the league. That's not to say that Brandon Weeden is this great quarterback, but rather, he is playing efficient football. It's more a testament as to what this offense can provide for Weeden. In fact, the Cowboys currently have two of the top three quarterbacks when it comes to completion percentage as Tony Romo sits at number three.

Resorting to a pass-first offense may not seem like a recipe for success, but when you watch the Patriots drive down the field with an empty backfield, it's clear it can work. The Cowboys can still use the running game, but it's going to be a lot more effective when everyone in the stadium doesn't know it's coming. If the Saints and Falcons can overload the line and shoot the gaps to get to the running backs, you know very well that the Patriots can do so.

Give this team a fighting chance. Pass the ball. Linehan needs to shake things up a little and put a little creativity into his offensive plan. Weeden is no Tom Brady, but he's also no Jimmy Clausen. The Cowboys have lost these last two games because their opponents are using their quarterback to make plays, but they have not. If you're going to get Weeden all dressed up and take him to the dance, then you better be willing to let him Dougie.


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