Injuries, depth will determine Cowboys’ fate

Posted Saturday, Sep. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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galloway Jerry always says stuff.

Way back in the beginning it was “socks and jocks,” and “Troy looks good in the shower.” That was nearly 25 years ago, and the off-the-wall quotes haven’t stopped since.

Last year’s highlight was Jerry saying he “wanted him some glory hole.” Oil and gas field wildcatters knew what he meant, while the rest of the world attempted to hide a collective grin.

A few weeks ago the man outdid himself for 2013 with “I’ve got the brain of a 40-year-old.” Football-wise, some of us for years have been suggesting a frontal lobotomy was necessary.

But go back to the NFL Draft last spring, and Mr. Jones delivered a quote — it was his answer to local and national media criticism — that immediately got the attention of the voodoo gods.

Even with the change to the 4-3 already under way at Valley Ranch, the Cowboys did not draft a defensive lineman, skipping one highly rated candidate who had slipped in the first round.

“Oh, well,” replied Jones at the time, “we’ve got plenty of depth in the defensive line.”

Fast forward to Sunday night at the Big Yard in Arlington, with the New York Giants in town for the season opener, and Mr. Jones’ “plenty of depth” gives us this:

George Selvie probably starting, and certainly playing a majority of the snaps, at defensive end for the injured Anthony Spencer.

Nick Hayden starting at a defensive tackle for the injured Jay Ratliff.

The lone backup at tackle is somebody named Landon Cohen after somebody named Ben Bass (actually, he’s a Dallas area high school product out of Texas A&M) was injured this week.

The backups at defensive end are people you never heard of, unless you count Kyle Wilber, and why would you? Six weeks ago, Selvie, Hayden, Cohen, etc. were football people you’d never heard of.

Depth in the defensive line?

There is no depth.

Outside of DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, there are no proven NFL players ready to go Sunday night in the D-line, depending on if Spencer can participate at all.

Actually, with all the fretting over the offensive line — and it’s a legitimate fret — it’s now the D-line that’s the wipeout position.

You jinxed it, Jerry.

Worse yet, it made no sense then or now to ignore the defensive line in the draft.

But the season opener doesn’t wait for stupidity.

Line ’em up, and snap the ball.

How good are the Cowboys?

Is this a playoff team?

On the positive side, the NFC East seems so wide open the Cowboys do have a shot at a division title, meaning a playoff berth.

Other positives involve the team’s offensive strengths.

Quarterback, for one. If you don’t have a QB, you don’t compete for 16 games in the NFL.

The Cowboys have a quarterback. There is no debate about Tony Romo being a capable quarterback. He’s a strength factor.

All the other negatives on Romo are also legitimate, until proven otherwise.

The NFL of yesterday, and football in general of yesterday, held two objectives to be sacred:

Run the ball. Stop the run.

Today?

It’s all about two other things:

Throw the ball. Rush the passer.

Romo can throw it, and he will be throwing to the deepest collection of receivers in forever around here.

But the offensive-line protection of Romo remains a hanging question mark.

A running game would obviously be a Romo helper, and the depth behind oft-injured DeMarco Murray appears adequate. But again, what about that O-line?

Speaking of Romo-friendly, a better defense would provide less scoreboard pressure for a quarterback who even the critics would admit has been asked far too often to “rescue” games.

The defense has the new look and the new veteran masterminds in Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli. But it’s a defense that starts the season way down in proven NFL depth despite the presence of Ware, Hatcher, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Brandon Carr, Mo Claiborne and maybe a breakout player in safety Barry Church.

Pressure on the passer is today’s defensive objective, and Ware at end instead of linebacker might even make him better. But it usually takes two to tango in the pass rush, and with Spencer ailing, Ware will not have Spencer’s full-time help from the other end, at least not for the opener.

The Giants, meanwhile, have huge injury issues of their own, particularly in the offensive line, so how much that evens things out for the Cowboys’ defense will be an interesting watch.

In the big picture for 2013, the Cowboys’ schedule is considered mild, but those teams that now appear beatable (Chiefs, Rams, Chargers, Eagles, Raiders, etc.) are also viewing the Cowboys as a possible W.

Basically, injuries and depth usually determine the fate of most clubs.

The Cowboys have been stuck on 8-8, and that record could swing either way this season.

For openers, however, let’s make it another 8-8 year, and no playoffs, while remembering the good old days, and how good Troy once looked in the shower.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw

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