Just a few days after their third straight loss, the Cowboys have made some fundamental changes to their offense in hopes of sparking some production. For better or worse, Matt Cassel is now the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys moving forward. He has the daunting task of keeping this team alive in the NFC East race and getting them ready for a rematch with the Giants in the Meadowlands. This offense has sputtered since the injuries to Dez Bryant and Tony Romo and they need production in a bad way. This offensive unit currently ranks 17th overall, including 22nd in points, 16th in passing yards and 19th in rushing yards. Change was certainly needed to try and breathe some life into this offense before it's too late to salvage the season. So, what are some things that need to happen for the Cowboys to get back into rhythm?
-Getting Dez Bryant Back On The Field
This is the obvious answer to some of their woes. In his absence the passing game has been dreadful, we can't be too sure about how much was on Brandon Weeden and how much was on the receivers, but something has to give here. Don't misunderstand, Bryant should only be on the field if he's cleared and ready. What Bryant does for the offense is huge in every category. At this point, no defense in the NFL is scared of the Cowboys' offensive attack because it's pretty simple to stifle. With Bryant, the Cowboys can re-open the playbook and even have a better chance at being the running team they once were. Bryant commands two guys and often times that's not even enough for him. If the defense has to be honest and give some coverage to one of the NFL's premier receivers, others should get opportunities to make plays. These receivers have perhaps been the biggest letdown in his absence and the trust in them is wavering. They really need to settle down and as Garrett would say, "be who you are."
-Change-Up In The Running Game
With the impending reports of more playing time for Christine Michael, this is truly an opportunity for him to show the NFL what he's about. There are a lot of people comparing him to DeMarco Murray but he's not Murray, he's Michael. The downhill running that he is know for could be very helpful to an offense that is trying to get off the tarmac. He is a bruising-type runner that has the ability to wear down a defense but he also has more patience. The Cowboys have had some issues getting their running game to sustain momentum and maybe it's time for Joseph Randle to return to the home-run hitter that he was in 2014. Randle hasn't played terribly but he just hasn't been very effective since the Atlanta game. Darren McFadden has struggled to warrant more playing time. The Cowboys need a spark on offense, nothing can help them more than a strong running game to slow down the game. If the running game is better, the entire offense will be able to establish their identity.
-Gameplan To Open Receivers
It was mentioned earlier about the struggles of the receivers and part of that has to be on the quarterback. It's understandable that teams are going to double Cole Beasley and Jason Witten with the absence of Bryant. Matt Cassel must show better pocket presence and throw his receivers open. That's how the game works in the NFL, it isn't just going to be there for the taking. Sometimes you have to create the seams and throw the guy open. Dallas has struggled to do so and that's why they have kept everything underneath. This offense is not a dink-and-dunk offense, they must find balance and they need to help these receivers move the ball. Scott Linehan will also have to do his best in order to make things open up a bit, too. It seems that every offense in the league is running pick-plays now, maybe Dallas should try that. Except, we know as soon as Dallas does, flags will fly because it's the nature of this league. New Orleans, New England, Green Bay and others all run pick plays, it's just a thought. Whatever they decide to do, they must learn to throw guys open, and the guys must fight to get free in order to make plays.
-Open Up The Deep Game
A lot of this goes hand in hand with receivers getting deep but in re-watching some of these games, you find that these receivers have found ways to be open downfield. The problem has been the reluctance to throw down the field. I have no idea if that's been the plan was to keep everything underneath or just a gun-shy quarterback but it must change and they have to take some chances. You cannot play scared in the NFL, it will get you beat very quickly. It may be corny but Wayne Gretzky was right when he said "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take." I also heard that quote came from a Michael Scott as well. All joking aside, it's very true and Matt Cassel has to show the rest of the offense that he's confident enough to take shots downfield when they are there. Terrance Williams has struggled without Bryant, but one way for him to get back into rhythm would be to get those deep slants or crossing routes to him and let him run loose. That's what his M.O. has been thus far in his short career, time to get him some confidence back. The quarterback has to help this offense make some plays. These three-and-outs have turned a once powerful offense into a bowl of mush. It's time to open it up.
This offense needs to stop at nothing to get themselves back on the NFL map. Whatever it takes to get some type of spark going and that's going to require better play from everyone involved. You can make the changes by getting Matt Cassel, La'el Collins and Christine Michael involved but they have to make good on their opportunities. Jeremy Mincey said this team will not roll over, but they have to live that never-say-die moniker. Getting Dez Bryant back will help get this offense going because he knows in order for them to go where they still believe they can, they must give Tony Romo a chance come November 22nd.