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Where Do The Cowboys Go From Here?

A fractured left clavicle will sideline starting quarterback Tony Romo for an extended period, leaving Dallas with some serious questions on offense.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

When he did not jump up from the hit delivered by Jordan Hicks, Cowboys nation held its collective breath. Soon the news was delivered four-time Pro Bowl passer Tony Romo had suffered a broken clavicle, the same injury that ended his season in 2010. In that season things were much different for the Dallas Cowboys.They were not going anywhere as a team, and it made sense to save the quarterbeck for better times. Now they are a legitimate Super Bowl contender and losing Romo has the potential to ruin the team's chances for a sixth Lombardi Trophy.

This is the kind of thing that coaches contingency plan for, but hope to never need. Brandon Weeden is the fall back option obviously, but he is not a full-time starter by NFL standards. The Cowboys will take the necessary steps to get Weeden in the best possible position over the next several days. There will be no drastic overhaul of the offense to adjust to the current situation.

"We are going to run our offense. Obviously Tony's a special player and a great leader for our football team for a number of years now. But guys have to go in there and play. Brandon did a good job today. He has done a good job in the past when he has opportunities to run our offense. Our standards are high for anybody who goes in and plays. He understands that. He will prepare well and play well." - Jason Garrett

That does not mean that the Cowboys will not tweak things to adapt to Weeden as the starter. The coaching staff will be putting in additional work to get Weeden up to speed and there will no doubt be a shift toward taking advantages of Brandon's individual strengths. That is basic game planning at any level of the game.

The overall philosophy may not change for the offense but it will be a good bet that there will be a more conservative approach within the concept. In the words of the Kenny Rogers song, "You've got to know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and no when to run". It is not yet time to fold 'em, but it is time for Garrett and Scott Linehan to play things close to the vest.

With Jason Witten and Cole Beasley both being the type of pass catchers that they are and the running backs proving that they can be an asset in the passing game, look for the Cowboys to put less emphasis on going vertical and more on the shorter gains. Dallas will still attempt to strike downfield from time to time, but it will be when the opportunities present themselves. The offense could still be potent if not as explosive.

To get an idea of what the overall concept will look like turn to the Dallas offense under Jon Kitna during Garrett's time as interim head coach. That Dallas team, with less talent than the Cowboys currently have, managed to go 5-3 under the current coach after staggering to a 1-7 record that cost Wade Phillips his job. The blueprint for success is there to follow. The challenge now may be greater, but so are the chances for success.

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