Mac Engel

Cowboys’ season coming down to Dez’s right foot

People don’t often say this when it comes to football, but on this one, all of us should be listening to Jerry Jones.

To assume that the NFC East will be won with nine, eight or even seven wins is a risk not even Jerry would take. And to Jerry Jones, risk is a most comfortable and familiar blankie.

“You are more than likely to have a team to play well and get hot and win more than eight or nine games. That’s the likelihood,” Jones said in his weekly radio show on KRLD/105.3 FM. “I’m certainly planning on that.”

Everybody should be planning on that.

Trivia: How many times has the NFC East been won this century with fewer than 10 wins?

Answer: Once.

Trivia: How many times since Jerry Jones became the owner of the Dallas Cowboys in 1989 has the NFC East been won with fewer than 10 wins?

Answer: The same as the first question.

As maddeningly mediocre as the NFC East looks today, to assume that the Cowboys, Eagles or Giants (the Redskins no longer count) will win this division with any fewer than double digits wins is unwise. To assume a wild-card team is going to come from this division is dumber.

The man who holds the car keys to 10 wins is not the starting quarterback, but the starting wide receiver. The real starting wide receiver. The only way the Cowboys can reach 10 wins is if they have their Dez, and who knows when Mr. Bryant can play again.

The Cowboys must win two of their remaining four games sans Tony Romo to have a realistic shot at reaching 10 when he returns against the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 22.

Today will be the day the Cowboys will know if the most important foot in North Texas is healed and capable of playing football on Sunday. If he can’t practice today, he most likely is a no for the game.

All signs point to another week where Terrance Williams will be the No. 1 wide receiver and Devin Street the No. 2. There is, however, good news — a giant meteor is not scheduled to crash into the earth to kill us all.

The Cowboys have four games remaining without Romo, and none of the four opponents has a winning record. Of course, neither do the Cowboys. Their next four opponents —Giants, Eagles, Seahawks and Bucs — are a combined 10-13.

The Cowboys’ defense is going to keep them in games, but this offense is a bottle of sideways without its three-lettered monster on the outside.

In preparation for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants, Jason Garrett has changed his quarterback from Thing 1 to Thing 2. He has changed his starting right guard from Ron Leary to La’el Collins. Garrett is expected to try a different running back — a guy the Seattle Seahawks dumped in favor of 34-year-old Fred Jackson, the pride of Arlington Lamar.

To change that much in Week 7 is a large, dramatic makeover. If you want to use the word desperate, go ahead. The Cowboy boot fits. There is literally no one else Coach Process can change at this juncture other than to find guys on the street.

Life without Tony Romo has established the following: No skill player on this offense has the respect of opposing defenses other than tight end Jason Witten. The only guy who can change that without No. 9 is No. 88.

The NFL knew Dez was good, but no one had any idea he was this good. Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden, Williams, Cole Beasley, James Hanna, Gavin Escobar, Street and the rest are all worthy of but one defender.

What we have seen with T-Will and Street as this team’s top receivers with Brandon Weeden at quarterback is what we should expect with Matt Cassel in the same position. This pair can’t be expected to get open but for a handful of times per game; it’s a question of luck if these guys can make a few plays down the field.

The team’s owner, general manager and team president said the team coached Weeden conservatively, and hinted that the team is going to take a few more chances with Cassel. This means the chance for a few more vertical plays, in both directions. Godspeed.

The Cowboys officially have four games remaining without Romo, and unofficially an undetermined number of games without Dez.

The NFC East is still available for the taking, but listen to the owner — 10 wins are required to win it. The only way to 10 is if Dez is back before Romo returns.

In honor of the new Star Wars trailer that broke the Internet, “Help us Dez Bryant — you’re our only hope.”

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, @macengelprof

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