At 2-6, the margin for error on these 2015 Dallas Cowboys is about zero unless the New York Giants and Philadelphia completely implode in the second half of the season, which has happened before mind you. As the Cowboys prepare for the return of their MVP caliber quarterback, tensions are at an all time high. The Cowboys must win now before the season is completely dead in the water and it could already be if they continue to play the way they have been lately. However, if the Cowboys are going to be able to make a miraculous comeback, some adjustments will need to be made. Let's take a look at a few players and determine their future in the next eight games.
J.J. Wilcox- Trending Down
Wilcox has struggled since the beginning of the season though he had some high points. This last game against the Eagles proved that he has completely regressed. The angle that he took on that play in overtime was worthy of a benching in itself. The safety play has really been a low point for the Cowboys all season long and even the play from Byron Jones hasn't masked their deficiencies. Wilcox was a former pet cat of mine and he had some good moments in 2014 but as he finishes out his fourth year in the position dating back to his college days, he's nothing more than box safety and special teams player. Harsh words, I know, but J.J Wilcox must replaced as soon as possible. As in yesterday.
Byron Jones- Trending Up
If you need a replacement for Wilcox, let Jones have first crack at it. Sure, Jones is still a rookie and he fell down against the Eagles but he is far and away the future of this secondary. Jones has earned his chops against superb tight ends like Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham. However, the time for more Jones has come with how poorly Wilcox has played. Jones has been getting more opportunities in the past few weeks and he has earned every bit of it. If not for how bad this team has played through these injuries, Jones would warrant discussion for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He is a tough and smart player with good instincts for how this game is to be played. If the Cowboys are going to get better on defense in the second half, Jones will be one of the catalysts.
Devin Street- Trending Down
Judging this by the whole season, you could argue that the other receivers deserve placement in this area but none have been more disappointing than Street. Terrance Williams didn't light it up in the wake of Dez Bryant's injury but he at least put forth some effort and has got better since Bryant's return. Street came to this team with high praise from receiver's coach Derek Dooley but has not really done much of anything since being drafted. Street struggles to get open, he struggles to block, and he struggles to stay in bounds. The Cowboys will likely get a chance to bring Brice Butler back in the lineup here soon once he recovers from a hamstring pull. If the Cowboys are going to make a run at the end of this season, Street should see less time in multiple receiver packages. Just about every other guy on the depth chart offers more than Devin Street.
David Irving- Trending Up
Irving has been a very pleasant surprise for the Cowboys but one scout saw it all along. CBS Sports Draft Expert Dane Brugler said:
If not for off-field issues, we would have been talking about DL David Irving as an early round draft prospect last year. So much talent.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) November 9, 2015
Irving is always finding a way to get his named called in a game and it's been all positive. At 6'7, Irving has done a fantastic job at using good hand placement and power to make plays in his rookie season. His abilities have been catching the eyes of the coaches and we'll likely see much more of him in the second half. He also knows how to play with power and can give the Cowboys help both inside and out as he is a pretty versatile player. If Nate Newton is drawing comparisons of Irving to Leon Lett and Bryan Broaddus is backing him up then they may have found a solid player for years to come.
DeMarcus Lawrence- Trending Down
To be honest, like Street, a lot of defensive linemen could be thrown in this bucket as well. However, Lawrence completely re-built his frame for the 4-3 rush end position and many believed there was no way he wasn't going to have a great year with Hardy drawing double teams. Lawrence has been pretty silent and when you watch him, it seems as though once he figures out one thing, he misses another. It's more or less the same things this team faced when they had DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer playing opposite each other. Hardy has been the only defensive lineman getting home and Lawrence needs to step up his game because he's a needed commodity. Jeremy Mincey is also another player that has played decently and could come in for any position but Lawrence is a guy they need to play better. Hopefully their little "defensive pow-wow" lit some fire under Lawrence and he can bring back the same effort we saw at the tail end of last season.
Darren McFadden- Trending Up
With Romo's return coming next week, nothing can be a better sight than a running back that has been performing very well in his limited time as Cowboys' starter. This offense is at its best when they have a lead dog running the rock and McFadden is on pace to finish the season strongly and perhaps with an 1,000 yard rushing performance. It took a long while before any of these backs figured it out but it doesn't look likely that McFadden will be giving up the reins anytime soon. If McFadden can continue to run hard and give the Cowboys a piece of what they had this time last year, they should be in good shape to keep the offense trending upward. McFadden has given this team the look and play of a complete back and fans need to keep seeing more from the former Razorback.