The Dallas Cowboys are 2-0, but they’re going to be without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for at least the next eight weeks. Just how tough are the next couple of games going to be for Dallas?
“It’s going to be kind of tough,” former Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Atlanta, they’re flying high. They’re 2-0, they’re finding ways to win against the NFC East. I’m sure they have on their mind a complete sweep. That guy Julio Jones is something to be reckoned with.”
Indeed, Jones leads the league in catches (22) and is second in receiving yards (276). Dallas’ best remedy against Jones this week isn’t to double- or triple-team him; no, it’s to keep him off the field altogether.
“I think the Dallas Cowboys need to establish that running game,” Bulluck said. “They have three running backs because they wanted to do running back by committee. So I would lean on that offensive line.”
Easier said than done. Dallas, which let DeMarco Murray walk this past offseason, ranks 20th in the league in rushing. Last year, Murray pounded defenses into submission, especially in the fourth quarter. This year, Dallas is waiting for someone to emerge.
“The running backs are having a hard time stepping up and emerging and actually claiming that position,” Bulluck said. “(Joseph) Randle has run well, but they’re all smaller guys. Darren McFadden doesn’t have that pop that he once had. Not that he was a big, heavy runner, but his size gave him a little more push through that line. But he’s had his injuries. So DeMarco Murray is definitely missed, especially since Philadelphia ain’t utilizing him right. So the running game has to be Dallas’ saving grace at this point.”
The running game will be even more important without Romo. The Cowboys have traded for Bills backup Matt Cassel, but Bulluck would roll with Brandon Weeden, who was 7-of-7 for 73 yards and a touchdown against Philadelphia on Sunday.
“I honestly thing Weeden gives you just as good a chance as Cassel,” Bulluck said. “Matt Cassel has bounced around this league for awhile since his days backing up Tom Brady. He had a little bit of success there, but the opportunities he had at Kansas City and Minnesota – and now obviously Buffalo just traded him – shows he’s expendable.”
Either way, the NFC East is there for the taking. Asked to pick a favorite to win the division, Bulluck couldn’t do it – at least not at first.
“No one,” he said. “I say no one because it’s obviously only two weeks, but everybody has their problems. You would like to say Dallas, but we just spoke about their problems. The Giants are a couple of plays away from being 2-0. So me, I would just pick one. I would say the Eagles because of the talent that they have; they just haven’t put it together yet. I think that this week against the Jets is going to be a huge test for them because they’re going against one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Chip Kelly was embarrassed last weekend. It could be another embarrassing football game. The Jets, it seems like they’ll get a lead and Ryan Fitzpatrick is being the game manager that we’ve known him to be and the Jets can kick your butt on defense. So I’m going to say the Eagles, but it’ll be different next week if they don’t get a win.”