A primer after the Cowboys' bye week
The record: The Cowboys are 2-2 following the bye week and begin a tough five-week stretch in which they play four of the next five on the road. The Cowboys on Sunday face the Baltimore Ravens, a team that's won 30 games at home since 2008, the most in the NFL. In terms of the NFC East, the Cowboys hold third place, behind Philadelphia and New York, who are tied for the lead.
What have you missed: Nose tackle Jay Ratliff has missed the first four games with a high-ankle sprain and should return for the Ravens game. Center Phil Costa lasted just three snaps before re-injuring his back in the season opener at the New York Giants. Costa is expected to return along with defensive end Kenyon Coleman (knee) for the Ravens game. Mike Jenkins has returned to the field and is playing some free safety and cornerback. Tony Romo leads the NFL with eight interceptions; he took the lead after a five-interception performance against the Chicago Bears. Tight end Jason Witten leads the NFL with five drops -- six on one report -- but whose counting? Witten didn't drop any passes in the loss to the Bears. Starting safety Barry Church is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Danny McCray has taken his spot.
Who's playing well? Sean Lee, second in the NFL with 47 tackles, Brandon Carr, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer are doing good things. If you want to know if anybody on offense is playing well, check out the next section.
Who's not playing well? The offensive line. Tyron Smith, Doug Free and Mackenzy Bernadeau have said they are playing below expectations. Smith and Free have a combined 12 penalties. Witten was struggling for a bit until his 13 catch 112 yard performance last week ended a terrible stretch for him. Romo leads the NFL in picks, but he's struggling to get the offense going.
What should you worry about: The next five weeks. The Cowboys are on the road for four of these games and two of these opponents, Atlanta and Baltimore have won a combined 58 games at home since 2008. The New York Giants invade Cowboys Stadium and are perfect, undisputed and undefeated at 3-0. One more thing: The Cowboys have a Sunday night game at Atlanta and have lost seven consecutive games on Sunday night.
What shouldn't worry you:Carr. He's everything the Cowboys thought he would be when they signed him to a five-year contract. He doesn't have any interceptions and he's been targeted 14 times -- second on the team -- but he's slowing receivers down and showed position flexibility by moving to free safety in a Week 3 victory over Tampa Bay.
Anything else? If the Cowboys struggle after this five-game stretch, there's always basketball season to look forward to.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Tony Romo news and what he will be watching for in OTAs.
Play Podcast Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his comments on how Jason Garrett should handle being on the hot seat and not let Jerry Jones get in the way.
Play Podcast Cowboys safety Barry Church joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the new defensive scheme and the impact it will have on him, how much more intense he expects practice to be with Monte Kiffin and his expectations.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Cowboys news, including Jason Garrett downplaying Tony Romo's involvement in offensive planning and play calling.
Play Podcast John Lynch joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss playing for Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli, why Cowboys fans should be excited about the new defensive staff, why Valley Ranch will no longer resemble a country club and his thoughts on the Cowboys' roster.
Play Podcast Herm Edwards joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Cowboys news and give his take on what new face will make the biggest impact for Dallas.
Play Podcast Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he saw at the Cowboys' rookie minicamp and how he helped Rod Marinelli on the defensive side of the ball.
Play Podcast Todd Archer joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what he took away from the Dallas Cowboys' rookie minicamp.