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Bye Week Blues: Dallas Cowboys Must Make Changes

The Cowboys stand at a crossroads and choosing the right path is critical to get their season back on track.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys were big underdogs against the New England Patriots, so a loss was not unexpected, but a more competitive effort would have been appreciated. That's the Patriots though and they do a very good job at showing teams what their problems truly are. Nothing could have been more evident this past Sunday and the result leaves the Cowboys at 2-3, one game behind the team they beat in week one; the New York Giants. That is the same team the Dallas Cowboys now have two weeks to prepare for, but right now they are two teams headed in opposite directions. Where does Dallas go from here?

There are certainly a few nuggets of optimism as the Cowboys defense looks to be an improving unit and should only get better with the return of Randy Gregory. Both Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain proved on Sunday that this team really missed them on defense. They are certainly not perfect having given up 30 points on Sunday, but it could have been a lot worse and many Cowboys' fans know this to be true. They accumulated five sacks in the first half but were winded in the second after the offense only had one scoring drive to add another field goal. This defense will only keep improving as the season goes forward.

The same cannot be said for the offense during the absence of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. They need them back in the worst way possible. Yet, nothing is set in stone for Dez Bryant, who hopes to be back after the bye week. Tony Romo still has at least four more games to miss. So what can they do?

It may start with replacing Brandon Weeden with Matt Cassel. There was a reason they made a trade for the veteran in the first place. Many believe the losses can't be pinned on Weeden, but he hasn't exactly done much to help. His best drive on Sunday was in garbage time late in the fourth quarter where the Patriots backed off and Weeden still managed to miss a wide-open Terrance Williams. It's obvious at this point that Weeden is not the guy to lead this offense forward. It's just speculation but he seems to lack the instinct and moxie needed to perform the position. So far it also seems that what we hear from these coaches is false confidence in Weeden. Nothing explains that sentence better than the fourth down try that needed four yards and Weeden throws a two yard pass to Jason Witten that the Patriots swallowed up. Trust me, it's not all on Brandon Weeden by any means, but he's lost on this offense and this offense has lost faith in him. That in itself further pushes the agenda for change. He hasn't had too much aid either with spotty offensive line play and receivers that remain covered.

Speaking of the receivers, they haven't done much of anything to help out this struggling offense either. No team in the league is afraid of this offense sans Dez Bryant. In his absence, not one receiver has taken charge of the position group and it's obvious how much they need Bryant. Of course, you always need your best player but it's been an utter disappointment to watch this passing game fall flat on it's face in the past three weeks. It may be safe to say that this team has reached such ineptitude at receiver that it may be warrant a good draft pick in the offseason.

When the confidence is lost it has a trickle-down effect on the entire unit. Jason Witten lost a fumble for crying out loud! They are truly playing to not get beat which is exactly what is killing them. There is no heart and fight in this offense which means it's on these coaches to win back their players. Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett must go straight to the drawing board and not worry so much about continuity but more about fixing this offense. Matt Cassel is a veteran with some character and confidence. He may not be the answer but they have to give him a chance. The same goes with this entire unit, give Christine Michael a better chance. Darren McFadden played a poor game and Joseph Randle didn't delight either. It's time to shake it up a bit.

The only way to do this is to open up the competition. Ronald Leary had perhaps his worst game, let La'el Collins have a go of it. Do whatever it takes to right this ship and not let the goals slip between your fingers. It doesn't take a genius to see that this team needs a spark. Garrett has been a very good coach when it comes to keeping the team grounded and motivated. He has to make some changes because the last thing he wants is people second-guessing his methods. These are grown men and the NFL is a harsh world, it's time for some change. If they have any hope left in becoming a playoff team and winning this division, they have to start winning some games soon. Their schedule offers up some games they could win but they have to flip a switch soon before all may be lost. Embrace change, you never know where it might take you.