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Has Christine Michael Won Cowboys Starting Job Over Joseph Randle?

With the quarterback and left guard decisions made, the team has reportedly now made a change at running back.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

You can argue whether the upcoming game at the New York Giants is really a must win for the Dallas Cowboys. With the somewhat muddled picture throughout the NFC East, it would not be impossible for Dallas to lose that game and then recover in the next two or three weeks to go on to defend their division crown. But you cannot come up with much of an argument that the team is not doing everything in its power to win the game. The latest evidence are reports from insiders that Christine Michael has been promoted to starting running back over Joseph Randle.

If they are correct, then the Cowboys go into the Giants game with a new starting quarterback, a new starting running back, a new starting left guard (although one that has seen work earlier in the season), and, based on word from one of the podcasts at the mothership, the anticipated return of their dynamic rookie pass rusher.

There is also still some chance that Dez Bryant will be back for the game, but the best information seems to be that his most likely return will be the following week against the Seattle Seahawks. However, the Cowboys are certainly trying to get as many upgrades to the team in place as possible for the Giants. Matt Cassel is hoped to be bringing a better passing attack to not only move the ball more efficiently than the team could with Brandon Weeden's predominantly short-range attack, but to force teams out of the seven, eight, and even nine man fronts they were using to shut down the running game. La'el Collins will hopefully help with the struggles the offensive line has had. Those are thought to be at least partly attributable to lingering problems Ronald Leary was having with the injury he sustained earlier to his groin.

Now Michael is believed to be getting the start, with a possible thought that he may be able to do more than Randle, especially in heavy traffic. There will still certainly be a committee approach to running back, with Darren McFadden reportedly being planned on as the third-down and passing situation back. Randle will also likely still get some carries in relief of Michael. And the running back move, if true, is also the easiest to reverse if it does not turn out as hoped. The main advantage Michael seems to bring to the table is his size and perceived ability to bang for more yards than Randle can. And there may also be some continuing concern over those goal line leaps that Randle was doing against the wishes of the coaching staff involved.

Nonetheless, that is a huge amount of change for this point in the season, as has been mentioned before. The question remains as to whether the changes represent real improvement for the team. There is some level of uncertainty concerning the offense, but based on what we saw in the loss to the New England Patriotsthe defense is already well on its way to playing at the level the team needs. Gregory's return will at some point bring the debut of the much anticipated front four of Randy Gregory, Greg Hardy, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Tyrone Crawford. Those are the four best pass rushers the team has, and together they are one of the best four-man pressure groups in the league. Add in the occasional blitz from Rolando McClain or Sean Lee, and it could be open season on quarterbacks for the remainder of the Cowboys' schedule. If the offense is good enough to capitalize on the improving defense, then the air of doom and gloom that settled in with the injuries to Dez Bryant, Tony Romo, and others may begin to lift.

If the team can avoid more serious injuries to key players, Dallas could be in very good shape for the stretch run when Romo comes back from his stint on IR, expected to be on November 22nd against the Miami Dolphins. We will see if things are indeed on a better track Sunday, which is just getting harder to wait for.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB


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