The New England Patriots just came to AT&T Stadium and routed the Dallas Cowboys, 30-6. With the loss, the Cowboys fall to 2-3 on the 2015 season, and are now the losers of three straight games. A season that began with high expectations has met with a reality that just doesn't care about expectations. The Cowboys litany of injuries has been documented and without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the offense is in decline. Against the Patriots, they put up a paltry six points. Even with a revived defensive pass rush that pounded Tom Brady early, the Cowboys never really seemed to threaten New England as the offense was thoroughly contained.
The Cowboys find themselves teetering on the edge of a season. At 2-3, anything is still possible, but lose a few more, go 2-5, and you've essentially cashed in the chips on this season. There are always the possibilities of miracles, but for Dallas, they are facing some must-win games after they return from the bye week. The Cowboys will have the Giants, the Seahawks and the Eagles when they return, two games in the division and one game against a wounded contender. That stretch will determine if the Cowboys will be able to make a run once they get Romo back. If they fail over those games, it likely won't matter when Romo comes back.
Greg Hardy makes a difference. If there is one thing to take out of this game is that with him in the game, and with Randy Gregory coming back, Dallas could become much better on defense. We can't forget that Dallas was only down 13-3 at halftime, and that was largely the work of the pass rush.
But the Cowboys offense has gotten worse and worse. Of all the people the Cowboys miss this season, maybe the one they miss the most is Bill Callahan. No one can tell me that the offensive line is run-blocking anywhere near the level they were last season. People say that teams are stacking the box on Dallas, while true, it would be wise to remember that teams did that last year, too. In 2014, the Cowboys were still able to impose their will. This year, they can't. Could Bill Callahan have meant that much? It's hard to say he didn't because it's not like the running backs have holes and are just missing them. Too many times multiple defenders are in the Cowboys backfield
I would argue that you can't blame Brandon Weeden for much of this mess, but I would also argue that the Cowboys should start Matt Cassel against the Giants. I can look at statistics for Weeden all day that point out good things he has done, but the truth is Dallas needs to shake things up on offense. It just isn't working under Weeden, I would rather see someone else get a shot.
Things seem very bleak for the Cowboys right now, but there is still reason to hope that they can get things turned around. It may take them breaking from their normal patterns. Maybe they need to become a pass-first offense for a while. Maybe Jason Garrett needs to get aggressive and start going for some fourth and ones instead of punting or kicking a field goal. Maybe Rod Marinelli needs to go hyper-aggressive with his scheme for a bit. There are a lot of arguments you could make for shaking things up.
The question is will the Cowboys coaching staff try it, will the players respond, and will it make a difference?