As this long, costly week draws to an end, it’s with much relief to say that week two is finally upon us. An important early season west coast trip for this Cowboys team is the challenge as they face a young Chargers team. Dallas is in need of a win to prevent an 0-2 start to the 2021 season.
The Cowboys have not been short on storylines this week and those issues are going to play a massive role in the outcome of this weekend’s game. You can look at all three phases of this Cowboys team and convincingly state that there is an X-Factor on all three units. However, these two individuals, one a Cowboy, one a Charger, will have the biggest impact on the Sunday’s game.
Dallas Cowboys X-Factor:
This is by far the biggest and most extensive opportunity Dorance Armstrong has been given since he has become a member of the Dallas Cowboys. With the definite absence of DeMarcus Lawrence and the presumed loss of Randy Gregory for week two due to COVID-19 protocols, Armstrong is going into week two as DE1. The Cowboys will absolutely need a breakout performance from the young fourth-year veteran out of the University of Kansas. Armstrong has only tallied 2.5 sacks in his career thus far, but the sentiment out of camp, even before all of these injuries occurred, was that this year looked to be the season Armstrong really came into his own.
DeMarcus Lawrence is widely viewed as the heart and soul of this defensive unit, and what he brings is beyond statistics. Armstrong has some big shoes to fill, however, Armstrong doesn't have to be Lawrence, he just has to be the best version of himself. If he can find a way to maximize his traits and skills, he may be able to positively affect this game and the games going forward.
With Lawrence out for upwards of two months, this is going to be the biggest and best chance Armstrong will get as he continues through his contract year. However, beyond the broad scope of the season, more specifically this Sunday he needs to find a way to consistently pressure Justin Herbert. That doesn't necessarily need to equal a handful of sacks, although that would be welcomed, it has to equal disruption in the form of pressures.
The Cowboys will need to make Herbert uncomfortable if they want to be successful Sunday afternoon. That burden wont fall squarely on the shoulders of Dorance Armstrong as it is believed the Cowboys will get creative and find ways to incorporate the likes of Micah Parsons and Jaylon Smith in the pass rushing. Still, the Cowboys will need to see the young man group up fast and make an immediate impact versus the Chargers and how he plays is the biggest X-factor for the Cowboys.
Los Angeles Chargers X-Factor:
This was an easy choice. The star defensive end for the Los Angeles Chargers is going to play a massive role in the outcome of this game. The Cowboys will be without their starting right tackle La’el Collins for five weeks and it comes at a miserable time. Terence Steele, the second-year undrafted tackle from Texas Tech, has drawn a daunting task of protecting Dak Prescott versus one of the leagues fiercest pass rushers.
Bosa has the fastest get off in the league, and if Steele is slow of the ball, it is recipe for disaster. Couple that with his relentless motor and wide array of pass rushing techniques, and the Cowboys better have a plan of attack when it comes to #99. A defensive end of this caliber can be a game-wrecker and how the Cowboys handle him will go a long way in determining the outcome of this contest.
The belief is the Cowboys will give Steele the help he needs in the form of blocking tight ends and chipping running backs, but there are going to be times when Steele is just going to have to put his big boy pants on and take Bosa on one-on-one. Because of those games within the game, Joey Bosa is an easy choice as an X-Factor for the Chargers in this game. Control Bosa in those moments and the offense can move the ball without skipping a beat. Lose in those moments and Dallas is in for a very long afternoon.