The Dallas Cowboys season may be over.
After hearing news that star linebacker and the team’s leading tackler Sean Lee is out for the season with a toe injury, many questions remain about how this defense can perform. Lee suffered his injury in last Sunday’s win against the Carolina Panthers. With him gone, there is a huge hole to fill at linebacker, and a huge void in the defense. To counter that injury, the Cowboys went and signed Ernie Sims, a veteran linebacker with previous experience as a Colt and Eagle. They also signed former Redskins and Packers safety Charlie Peprah, in the hopes that an added member of the secondary can help take some of the pressure off of a slowly-depleting and bealeaguered defense.
But will it be enough? The answer, quite simply, is no. The Cowboys are done. They were done at the beginning of the season with the tough schedule and the poor coaching. But Lee’s injury is the final nail in the inevitable coffin that is the Dallas Cowboys’ season. Without Lee as their biggest playmaker, the defense will struggle with a secondary that has only shown us that they are being overpaid for their performance, and a front line that can’t put pressure on any QB save Eli Manning in Week 1. At this point, it might be safe to say that the Week 1 win over the Giants was more of the Cowboys catching them napping and not totally prepared for the season. Since that game, the Cowboys have been 2-3 against relatively mediocre competition (except maybe the Ravens and Bears, since I am not sold on the Seahawks being a good team), and the Giants have been 5-1, with their lone loss to the Eagles, and having faced tougher competition to this point. Couple that with the fact that the Cowboys have never beaten the Giants in Arlington, and then they have two tough road tests against an undefeated Falcons team, and a pretty good Eagles team, the Cowboys could be done for.
It looks as though if the Cowboys are going to have any chance at all, they need to do one of two things, or maybe even both. The first thing is Jason Garrett needs to let the offense do its thing. His playcalling has been ultra-conservative the past few games, and it’s time to release the hounds. Put the game in Romo’s hands, and take what comes, whether it’s game-ending INTs or game-winning drives. At this point, that’s what the Cowboys have to do since they can no longer rely on their defense. Also, because of the running back situation with DeMarco Murray out and Felix Jones questionable, it’s time for Romo to take control of this team.
And this can work if Garrett doesn’t make bone-headed coaching decisions. Putting the game in Romo’s hands worked against Baltimore. It was Garrett who mismanaged the clock at the end of that game, not Romo. Romo actually put together two 4th quarter drives that looked incredible and had the Cowboys in position to win that game. By letting Romo loose, sure the INTs will happen, but at least the Cowboys stand a chance.
The other thing the Cowboys can do is switch to a 4-3 defense for the rest of the year. Now I am against employing a totally new defense midway through the system when players are used to one scheme and one set of defensive play calls. But by utilizing a 4-3 defense, they will beef up their front line, as it will remove one linebacker (most likely Lee’s replacement, Dan Connor), and add a defensive tackle (Josh Brent). But this is not as as solid of a way out of this mess as the first option. The reason being that Ernie Sims is capable enough to be the repleacement for Sean Lee in the current 3-4 scheme, keeping Dan Connor on the sidelines anyway.
It’ll be interesting to see how things shake up, and maybe the defense can prove all of us wrong with a stout win over the Giants on Sunday. But i’m not expecting it. Neither should anyone else. Until there is actually something to be excited about with this team, the TV ratings for this team will continue to drop by more than the record-breaking 18% drop that has already occurred. And as the Cowboys become unwatchable, they will continue to be mried in mediocrity and make the same mistakes they always make and do the same bad habits that they always do.
And this Sean Lee injury has nnly made things worse.