Very few injuries in the NFL are season-changing. Well, what happened to Dez Bryant in Week 1 will drastically undermine the hopes and dreams of the Dallas Cowboys.
Bryant, who broke his foot in a 27-26 win over the Giants, could miss up to 10 weeks.
How much will his absence change what the Cowboys are trying to do offensively?
“It’s massive,” former NFL scout and current ESPN NFL analyst Matt Williamson said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I mean, I wrote a column about the Cowboys offense, and I don’t think they’re going to run the ball like they did last year. As great as their offensive line is, they’re better run blockers than they are in protection. I think more people can crowd the line of scrimmage, even though the running back position is not as good.”
The Cowboys rushed 23 times for just 80 yards – 3.5 yard per carry – against the Giants, and that was with Bryant on the field. Without him, the running game figures to struggle even more, especially without an elite wide receiver commanding double coverage on every play.
“I don’t think Terrance Williams and company are feature receivers,” Williamson said. “They’re complimentary receivers. So is Witten at this stage. Romo is still a great player, but Dez stirs the drink. I think this is a deal breaker honestly for the Cowboys and is going to be the reason that they end up out of the playoffs. He’s that big of a deal to them. He’s the straw that stirs the drink.”
The Cowboys sure could use DeMarco Murray right about now, but he, of course, took his talents to Philadelphia in the offseason. For the Cowboys, that was by design, but now they might be regretting it.
Losing Bryant, it is worth nothing, doesn’t just affect the offense. It affects the entire team.
“I think with DeMarco Murray now in Philadelphia, their running game is going to suffer just from a running back perspective, and I think it’s much easier now to crowd the line of scrimmage,” Williamson said. “And therefore I don’t think they’ll control the clock like they did last year, and a defense that has a lot of question marks will be on the field even more. The receivers are complimentary pieces. Witten is going to the Hall of Fame, but he’s not a No. 1 type option and neither is Terrance Williams. So I think Romo is great, but he can only do so much. This is really going to cripple their playoff hopes.”
“Absolutely,” Williamson said. “Absolutely. He’s that good. He’s that important – and they told us this. When free agency hit, is it going to be Dez? Is it going to be DeMarco? And wisely and quickly they chose Dez. Because they understand this.”
Interestingly enough, the Cowboys (1-0) face Murray and the Eagles (0-1) in Philadelphia this Sunday. Kickoff is at 4:25 p.m. ET.