Life Without Tony: The Cowboys' Guide To Winning

Dan DeMagistrisCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2008

It's a new day in Dallas.

Not only did they lose starting quarterback and resident team leader Tony Romo to a broken pinkie, they got their proverbial you-know-whats handed to them (rather unceremoniously) by the formerly mediocre-at-best Arizona Cardinals.

I hope Travis LaBoy and Darnell Dockett both received game balls after Sunday's game against the visiting Cowboys. I don't remember the last time two players disrupted an offense more effectively than these two. They were reminiscent of Strahan and Umenyiora, except Dockett was coming up the middle.

Where was the Dallas offensive line on Sunday? Jason Garrett better start limiting his front five to a pound of pasta per day from now on. They were slow, weak, and bursting with technical errors.

Next week, the Boys' in blue roll into St. Louis to face another average-at-best defense that just helped its team break an eight-game losing streak by bringing down Washington QB Jason Campbell four times and forcing three fumbles.

Several things need to happen next week in order for the Cowboys to get a win against the Rams, and even more things need to happen to get a win against the Bucs in week eight and the Giants in week nine.

First, Jason Garret needs to have a chat with his offensive line and they need to figure out how to keep the 40-year-old Brad Johnson off his behind as much as possible in the upcoming weeks. Johnson is no spring chicken and I think there are a limited number of hits left for Johnson to sustain in his career. The next step is Brooks Bollinger—no thanks.

Next, defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, needs to set up a Pop Warner tackling drill to remind the cowboys defense (especially Zack Thomas and the secondary) that in the NFL you can't slap someone to the ground. I've never seen so many arm tackles in my life. "Head in front, hit, wrap, lift, and drive" should be the mantra chanted for at least three hours a day by the Dallas defense this week. Football is not a contact sport, it's a collision sport.

The majority of the Rams' tackles against Washington last week came from defensive backs, which is a good sign for Cowboys fans. The Cowboys o-line needs to get a solid push up front, open some holes, and Marion Barber will be lowering his shoulder into 190-pound cornerbacks instead of 300-pound defensive tackles.

I think the mere presence of both Barber and rookie phenom Felix Jones will command a lot of respect and attention on the field. Sans Romo, the Cowboys may prove hard to handle, as the play action will become most effective. Defenses are going to look to pressure Johnson with the blitz and while also shutting down the running game. This will provide a significant chance for the old war vet to hit Owens and Co. downfield for big gains.

Obviously, with Johnson taking the helm, the Cowboys offensive scheme is going to shift somewhat, giving Barber and Jones the chance to prove their leadership abilities.

Losing Romo is the first real emotional test for the Dallas Cowboys since Romo took over for Drew Bledsoe. Look for the Cowboys to rally around each other. If they are able to tune out the naysayers and feed off of each others talents, you are going to see a very dangerous team next week against the Rams.

If they can significantly roll over the Rams, I think they will gain enough momentum to hit the Meadowlands at 6-2 and overcome the favorite Giants. When's the last time that the Giants were favored against the Cowboys?

Like I said, it's a new day in Dallas.