NFL AM: Cowboys Might Not Be In Trouble Without Romo and Dez


Romo’s Injury Might Not Be A Killer

Dallas’ 20-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday came at a huge cost, as quarterback Tony Romo suffered a broken clavicle which could keep him out until December.

“There was a lot of adversity that we had to overcome today and I thought our team did a really good job just continuing to battle and fight,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said after the game. “And again, we emphasize mental toughness – being your best regardless of circumstance and there was a lot of circumstances to deal with.”

New broke Sunday morning that Dez Bryant, who suffered a broken bone in his foot in the team’s Week 1 victory over the Giants, would miss roughly 2-3 months instead of what was initially reported as 4-6 weeks.

“Stuff happens. It’s the NFL. Things are going to come up,” Romo said. “It’s our job to just go back to work and the guys on this football team know it’s really just going to be about this next week after tonight. The guys are going to enjoy it and then they’re going to get back to work. The guys will be ready for Atlanta. We have a football team who understands when things don’t go your way, you just have to get back to work and keep getting better. Our team has a great chance and opportunity to go and continue to win.”

Garrett was asked if his team felt snake bitten after the game.

“The mindset and mentality is ‘control what we can control,” the Cowboys head coach said. “Be our best regardless of what the circumstances are and be ready for our opportunities.’ And those guys were ready. I thought our team was ready and responded really well to that adversity and I think it certainly helped us – the mindset and mentality – to win this ballgame today.”

A team that had one of the most explosive offenses in football a season ago is now without it’s “Triplets” for much of the season.  No Romo, no Dez and no DeMarco Murray, as he left for greener pastures in Philadelphia.

Enter journeyman Brandon Weeden, now No. 1 receiver Terrance Williams and sticky fingers Joseph Randle.

“The good thing is that I have started quite a few games in this league so I know from a preparation standpoint, I have done that,” Weeden explained. “It is not like I have not played. Now granted, I am still a fourth-year guy, in my second organization, so it is a challenge but I just have to prepare every week. I have to over prepare and get ready to go execute. We have a lot of weapons, a lot of good weapons. So my job is to make it easy on those guys, let them do their jobs, get them those one on one matchups, and let them do what they do best.”

The Cowboys now look very mediocre at their skill positions.  Add in a defense that’s been surprisingly playing well and the team has to return to a mindset where focusing on the ground game and winning low-scoring affairs will be acceptable.  A punt is no longer a bad play for the Dallas offense.

The good news is that these injuries happened early in the year and both Romo and Bryant will be back before season’s end.

“It never feels good whenever you get hurt, I think, especially with the way I feel about our football team and the way that the guys played tonight. But I’ll be ready to go,” Romo said.

More good news from a Cowboys perspective is that the team is currently in first place in the NFC East and the only other team in the division with a victory is Washington, who isn’t expected to contend.

“The positive part is that we are 2 and 0,” Weeden said. “Guys like that are hard to replace. They are Pro Bowl players that are arguably some of the best at their respective positions. It is hard to replace that. But you know. It going to sound cliché but next man up, get back to competing and go out and win games. Then when those guys come back, you know get back to square one like we have been in these first few weeks and keep the train rolling. So our job, my job, and the job of these young receivers is that we have to do our part and not have any drop off, continue to grow and build off these two wins. These are two tough wins off two good, tough teams.”

The Cowboys will likely be able to go through some growing pains and scuffle a bit, and still be in position to win the division title when their horses are back healthy.

What Goes Down Must Come Up

When you think you know what’s going to happen on a given Sunday in the NFL, you’re proven wrong.

After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars were outscored 126-46 in Week 1, all four perceived non-contenders stepped up with huge bounce back victories in Week 2.

The biggest surprise was likely Tampa’s 26-19 victory in New Orleans over the Saints, who are five years removed from a Super Bowl victory.

Rookie Jameis Winston, who had his first NFL throw go for a pick-six last week, outdueled future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.

“I just want to go out there and do my job and be a game manager right now,” Winston said. “Who knows what my future holds, but I just want to put our team in the best possible situation I can for us to win. I feel like we as a whole team did that today.”

Meanwhile in Oakland, the Raiders engineered a comeback victory over a perennial playoff team in the Baltimore Ravens, thanks to a Derek Carr touchdown pass to Seth Roberts with 26 seconds left.

“It was special,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I had to focus on taking my mind elsewhere so I didn’t get all choked up. Very special for me.”

Carr threw for a career-high 351 yards and three touchdowns a week after being knocked out of a season-opening loss with an injured throwing hand.

The Cleveland Browns were “forced” to play second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel after Josh McCown wasn’t available with a concussion, and the team rallied around the young quarterback for a 28-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Manziel finished 8 of 15, for 172 yards with a pair of touchdown passes and more importantly no turnovers. In true “Johnny Football” fashion, Manziel scrambled around and tossed a game-clinching 50-yard TD strike to Travis Benjamin that awakened memories of Manziel in college.

“It was vintage Manziel,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “When a play breaks down that is what he brings.”

Finally, the Jacksonville Jaguars shocked the world, or at least most of the Sunshine State as they used a gutty performance by quarterback Blake Bortles and wide receiver Allen Robinson to take down the Miami Dolphins, 23-20.

“From our point of view, we expected this outcome,” said Bortles, who went 18 of 33 for 273 yards with a pair of touchdowns and no turnovers.

Miami, expected to be a contender in 2015, looked mediocre for much of the game against a Jaguars team that was missing starting left tackle Luke Joeckel, tight end Julius Thomas and their best defensive player, Sen’Derrick Marks.

“They played their tails off from start to finish,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. “Some of the things we challenged our team with last week, I loved the way they responded this week and battled and came out.”



About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.