Over the past several seasons, nobody would ever write a column calling for the defense to step up and carry this offense. Yet, here we sit with at least two weeks away from seeing Dez Bryant on the field and perhaps six more until the franchise quarterback Tony Romo sees the gridiron. That is the reality of this starved for a championship squad who has seen the full effects of attrition in this still very young season. The Cowboys must now get creative with finding ways to win ballgames.
Look, this loss against New Orleans still stings because of how winnable of a game it actually was but the Saints were the more desperate team in the end. Out of all the teams in the NFL, the Cowboys may still be the hardest to figure out due to all these injuries. However, injuries or not, these Cowboys need to find ways to win games and win them soon.
Dallas has one simple way to win some games; they have to embrace getting ugly. That means they need a huge boost from their defense to get there. The defense has struggled in the past two weeks due to many factors but now they will receive a bit of good news with the returns of Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain off suspensions. If Sean Lee is able to pass his concussion protocol this week then the defense will be in even better shape and once they return from the bye week they should be able to add Randy Gregory to the rotation. The Dallas defense will be in about as good shape as they possibly can over the next few weeks so they must capitalize and help Dallas get some wins.
Rod Marinelli's defense is nothing without its healthy rotation and so far this year he's had anything but. Even with the loss last week, Jeremy Mincey's presence helped the Cowboys double their sack totals in one game. They've had a tough time getting pressure because they haven't had the horses to run the race. Think about this, now that Greg Hardy is back, he and Jeremy Mincey will move all over the defensive line in games. They are two of the more versatile players on the defense and now they will finally be able to show it. Tyrone Crawford has struggled this early in the season because he's needed more outside presence. By getting these upgrades, Marinelli hopes that he can keep his rushmen fresh and relentless. Also, Cowboys fans will be treated to the likes of Rolando McClain and Sean Lee on the field...at the same time! It's time for this defense to earn their paychecks. They've got to start their resurgence come Sunday. What better test than to have to go up against the World Champions?
Dallas has to find ways to disrupt the opposing offense any way they can. We've seen teams in the past that have had success against Tom Brady by getting in his face. Every quarterback will struggle if you are constantly in their face. For the Cowboys to have a shot against the Patriots, they must make Brady feel their hot breath on his neck. This is a big game for the Cowboys whether they win or lose because they are still looking to define themselves. Is this going to be the stifling defense that we saw in weeks one and two or are they closer to this jumbled mess of the past two outings?
For years, the offense with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant have carried a large share of this team and kept them in games and relevant in football. Now, this defense with the help of these ever-so-needed reinforcements must help them win games. Marinelli has always prided himself as a teacher of takeaways and so far this defense has let him down. With the added beef on the line and skilled linebackers roaming the middle, these corners and safeties must make teams pay for their mistakes. It feels as though every week we are seeing at least two dropped interceptions and several missed opportunities. Not anymore. The offense is struggling to find it's rhythm, the defense must come to the rescue and offer them more opportunities with better positioning to score. Without Lance Dunbar now, the offense will have less weapons to do so which even furthers the pressure on this defense to perform.
This is a team desperate to right the ship and stay competitive and though it may be wishful thinking to expect a win this Sunday, we need to see a team that will make New England earn it. After this week, the Cowboys will have a bye week to get Randy Gregory back in their arsenal, and hopefully Dez Bryant sometime soon. Then they will begin a stretch against four teams that have a combined 6-10 record this season. This defense has never seen a better time to come together and gel until now. With the cavalry back, the objective is to put themselves in prime position for a playoff run pending the return of their leader on November 22nd against the Miami Dolphins. It doesn't have to be pretty by any means, they just need to win by any means necessary. Last season they called themselves the We-fense, it will take everyone on that defense to live up to their moniker and get these Cowboys over the hump.