The news broke Sunday night after a narrow 27-26 home victory versus the rival New York Giants, that star receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, Dez Bryant, would be sidelined with a broken foot. Some are saying he’ll miss 4-6 games, some are reporting 8, with some even going as high as 12. But I’ve been asked a lot about this and felt the urge to make it clear of how this will effect the Dallas Cowboys, while they try to go play at least a month without their leading rusher (DeMarco Murray) and receiver (Dez Bryant) from one year ago.
First off, we must not listen to the noise. This is a top receiver in the league, and of course everyone’s going to be talking about it and giving their uneducated opinions as if they were doctors. That’s not what I’m going to do here. We’ve heard anywhere from the loudmouth Jerry Jones to the Falcons wide receivers. We just do not know, and we’re not assigned as Dez’s doctor (if Dez’s doctor is reading this, please go in the comment section below and fill us in). We can’t speculate how long he’ll be out, because everyone’s bodies react differently to any injury. When I broke my collarbone in football practice, a classmate told me “My older brother was good in a month”, but that’s simply not how it works. So if you’re comfortable with eliminating all you’ve heard about a timetable for Dez and what everyone but the doctor and Bryant himself have said, you have my permission to continue.
What is the injury?
Well, it is known as a “Jones fracture”. Bryant has broken the fifth metatarsal and has already undergone a “successful” surgery, according to Dez Bryant himself. This is the same injury that NBA star Kevin Durant had. More closer to home, this is the same injury that DeMarcus Lawrence had last year to kick off his rookie season. He was deactivated the first eight games after suffering it in training camp. Understand, he was automatically deactivated the first eight games because he was placed on short-term injured reserve, which means even if he was healthy, hypothetically, in week 6, he couldn’t have returned.
Why is Dez so important?
Dez Bryant’s contributions to this team are significant. In his previous three years where he played all 16 games, his worst numbers are 88 receptions (2015), 12 touchdowns (2013), and 1233 receiving yards (2014). Defenses center their game plan to halt Bryant so they can have a chance to win. If they hold him to 2-3 catches, they know they have a chance in winning. Many of you would be aware that Tony Romo fully trusts throwing the ball to two people, that’s Jason Witten and Dez Bryant. When the game’s on the line, Romo feels he can give either of those two the shot to win the game. Don’t believe me? Sunday when Bryant exited the game, Jason Witten caught the winning touchdown pass from Tony Romo on the final drive.
Who is there to replace him?
Let’s get one thing crystal clear. You can NOT replace a man like Dez Bryant. It’s like trying to replace Paul Walker on the Fast and Furious movies (I’ve never watched a single one btw), yes, his brother can fill in and be there, but you’re just not going to be Paul Walker. I’m sure the other people in this movie had to step up their game to make this previous Fast and Furious movie a hit. That’s the same thing we’re looking at for Dez. There’s nobody who can replace Dez and make you not miss him, but there’s people who can pick up the slack.
During Dez’s holdout, Terrance Williams was the number one and this allowed Tony Romo to get comfortable with Williams, as well as giving him a chance to really step up and show what he can do. You also have Cole Beasley, who has gained the trust of Romo the past year or so. Beasley’s one to always get open and is superb at running his routes, and one’s play style that reminds me of Wes Welker. Then you have Devin Street, who Dallas traded up 12 spots to go get the Pitt product. And of course, you have the tight ends like Gavin Escobar and James Hanna, and you also have running back Lance Dunbar, which any of the three guys can step up and have a role in the passing game.
Now that we’ve settled that, I’m going to show you the next six games that Dez Bryant could potentially miss, and how big of a shot the Cowboys have.
WEEK 2: at Philadelphia
If you’ve seen my #WeeklyFood picks, you know where I’m going with this. I feel Philadelphia’s offense will look much better against a defense without three of their top players at the defensive positions (Hardy, Rolando McClain, Scandrick). However, these corners for the Eagles and their defense is soft altogether. I believe with Dez, Dallas may have a shot in this one, as he burned them for 3 touchdowns the last time the Cowboys came to town. Dallas fans, you’re not going to like this.
Chance Cowboys win: 10%
WEEK 3: vs Atlanta
This is a team that also can have an explosive offense against a bad Cowboy defense. The Atlanta defense showed something against the Eagles, perhaps, or maybe Philly hasn’t figured it out yet with all their new pieces. I think the odds to win this game are much better, however, for the Cowboys.
Chance Cowboys win: 60%
WEEK 4: at New Orleans
This is when the fans are missing Dez Bryant a little less, only if they enter having won two games, but the void left is still huge. Plus, Rob Ryan knows this offense. You don’t always know what Ryan will throw at you, but Robby Ryan knows what Garrett’s going to try.
Chance Cowboys win: 55%
WEEK 5: vs New England
This is when the Cowboys get Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain back, however, they don’t have Dez Bryant. Bryant would smoke any corner the Pats put up against him. Plus, I made a Welker comparison earlier, so Cole Beasley would likely have a diminished role in this game.
Chance Cowboys win: 25%
WEEK 6: BYE WEEK
Just another week for Dez Bryant to heal.
Chance Cowboys win: 0%
WEEK 7: at New York (Giants)
Dez Bryant will likely be aiming to return this game. However, if he does not, I still think the Cowboys have a good chance, relying on their defense to get after Eli Manning.
Chance Cowboys win: 70%
So there you have it! Do I think the Cowboys go 3-2 without Dez? It’s possible with everyone else picking up the slack, but it’s going to be really difficult. Honestly, if this is the time Dez Bryant misses and the Cowboys are 2-3 in his absence, I won’t be the least bit upset. Anybody can win any given Sunday, right?
Just in the meantime, please, do not listen to the silly reports “Dez expected to miss 12 weeks due to lack of progress”, unless you hear it from the man himself.
* NOTE: Just because I favor Cowboys to win or lose, doesn’t mean this will mirror my #WeeklyFood picks, as I take momentum, lines, and other factors into that as well.