Dallas Cowboys: Winston Wolf

Rabid Reaction: Seven deadly concerns for Cowboys

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
10:22
AM ET

Rabid Reaction: Our series of knee-jerk-styled, emotional overreactions from Ben Rogers of 103.3 FM ESPN's Ben and Skin Show. He's known to get way too excited over even the slightest of developments with the teams he grew up with in the DFW. Proceed with caution ...

An extremely early must-win vibe mysteriously surrounded the slump-shouldered Dallas Cowboys heading into Week 2. Angry mathematicians raised their calculators in fuming protest but the sense of urgency never relented.

Little did the Poindexters know that there’s no key on a calculator capable of factoring epic quarterback panic. The disastrous manner in which the Jets debacle went down washed over Valley Ranch like a rogue wave of toilet water.

No one in that locker room was fond of the feeling. It was far too familiar. After all, it was just a year ago that this team watched their backyard Super Bowl dreams unravel prematurely. This team is fully aware of how one loss can snowball into two, and then three, and four, and so on. In fact, few teams in professional sports right now are better suited to successfully identify a snowballing crisis in a police lineup.

They know the warning signs, so even though playoff games are clearly not won in mid-September, they shuddered at the prospect of leaving San Francisco in a recognizable 0-2 hole. That’s why Tony Romo refused to be denied and shook off a violent rib fracture/lung puncture combo like it was a harmless Victor Ortiz head butt.

He valiantly returned just in time to carjack a victory from the 49ers, squash all quarterback panic (before it even had a chance to breathe) and stylishly pen his signature win to date in the process. But soon after the game, my sources tell me that Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction intercepted a Gatorade bucket dumping to remind everyone that great challenges still remain.

After all, if Week 2 featured a ridiculously early must-win atmosphere, why wouldn’t Week 3 against the Redskins lead to more of the same? Although Romo’s meltdown vs. the Jets is no longer a troubling topic for Cowboys fans, plenty of other dramatic storylines have now been flagged as urgent.

In that vein, here is a list of the seven deadliest concerns for Cowboys fans heading into Monday night's showdown against the Redskins:

7. A Blanketed Witten Blanket: Assuming Romo picks up his courageous adventure where he left off Sunday and actually plays this week despite a lung hole issue, you're left to wonder who he'll be throwing to. With Miles Austin out with an exploded hamstring, you'd have to think Romo would lean on his tight end wooby more than ever. Problem is, the Redskins know that too, so you can expect Jason Witten to face suffocating coverage.

6. Garrett Brainlock: For such a seemingly conservative soul, Jason Garrett sure does dabble in the trickery portion of his playbook a lot. Double reverses stop working after junior high football and, according to my hazy recollection, they have proven to be no more successful than triple and quadruple reverses at the NFL level. The next time a game is on the line and the Cowboys decide to run the ball, it might be wise for Garrett to call a play for an actual running back.

5. Offensive Line Anxiety: Surprisingly, the player on the Cowboys' reshuffled offensive line to worry about the least is the 20-year old rookie with the hyperextended knee: Tyron Smith. Beyond him, everyone else dabbled in the suspect sauce to varying levels on Sunday. With Romo gingerly dancing around on crutches behind them, they'll need to be better as a group if they want to keep him out of a coma. Here are two words that might help: Max Protect.

4. Fragile Corners: Defensive Godzilla Rob Ryan has been able to work wonders with a depleted cornerback group. Orlando Scandrick is somewhere in a walking boot right now. Mike Jenkins has slowly been working his way toward a full-body cast. Terence Newman is finally ready to return from a groin injury -- which is great news -- but how long can he stay healthy? The Cowboys need him to stay upright at least until Scandrick is ready to return. Anything longer would simply be a bonus at this point. By the way, how confident are you in Frank Walker? Did you just say "Who?" Exactly.

3. Running Nowhere: Maybe it's the fault of their retooled offensive line or maybe they've just faced two incredibly tough front sevens to start the season, but it's looked as if Cowboys' running backs have had nowhere to go. Now with Felix Jones suffering a shoulder injury, worry for the Cowboys' rushing attack only escalates. Considering that an effective running game would buy some much-needed breathing room for their wounded QB, it's imperative that the Cowboys break out of their run game funk. (Pick to click: DeMarco Murray.)

2. Dez Bryant: Will he be 100 percent? Has he done everything in his power to maximize his rehabilitation process? Does he know the plays? Is he prepared to run precise routes for a QB who might need to let it fly to an area at times to avoid a hit? Can Romo and Bryant establish trust and chemistry? Can Bryant replace Miles Austin's clockwork reliability? Will he face unrelenting double coverage in light of no real threat on the opposite side? Rooting for the Cowboys and worrying about Dez Bryant are basically a package deal at this point, but if Romo can simply get the ball into his hands, magical things will happen. Guaranteed.

1. Romoribs: According to Calvin Watkins, it not only hurts Romo merely to breathe, but he’s also been forced to sleep in a chair. Meanwhile, everyone is chugging right along as if he'll lace em up Monday night. There were times on Sunday where he had to get peeled off the turf with a spatula. One poorly placed hit on Monday night and there won't be a big enough spatula. Although he’ll be fitted with a custom bulletproof vest, he won't be himself again until he's fully healed. How could he be? His teammates must rally around his courage once again and do everything in their power to keep him upright. If not, it'll be a short season.

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