Dez Bryant Injury: Why the Cowboys Won't Need Him vs. San Francisco 49ers
Dez Bryant is one of the most promising young offensive players in the NFL. His rare combination of speed, size and strength make him a handful for even the elite corners in the league—something Darrelle Revis was finding out last Sunday before Bryant injured his quad.
According to Jason LaCanfora, Dez Bryant is unlikely to play today against San Francisco barring significant improvement prior to game time. While no team wants to lose a playmaker like Bryant, the Cowboys would be wise to sit him this week, for the simple fact that they probably won’t need him to beat the 49ers.
The Cowboys offense has plenty of receiving weapons even without Bryant. Miles Austin and Jason Witten have nine Pro-Bowls between them and most teams would kill for a TE/WR combo like that. Taking Bryant’s spot in the starting lineup will be Kevin Ogletree, another talented young receiver. When Bryant went down last season with an injury, Ogletree was unable to take advantage of the opportunity due to an injury of his own. The Cowboys will be counting on him to step up and give Romo a third target.
The San Francisco 49ers defense was fortunate to draw Seattle’s weak passing offense in Week 1. Despite all of his flaws, Tony Romo is a vastly better QB than Tarvaris Jackson. The 49ers should not expect such an easy task today, regardless of whether or not Bryant can play. The Cowboys, however, will have less of a margin for error without Bryant, so it will be vital yet again for Romo to avoid the late game bumbling for which he has become known.
The other part of this equation is San Francisco’s underwhelming offense. Rob Ryan’s defense should have a field day against Alex Smith. The Cowboys simply won’t need to score many points today, as long as they can keep Ted Ginn Jr. from going nuts again on special teams. It’s hard to see the 49ers offense cracking 20 against DeMarcus Ware and the rest of Ryan’s attacking 3-4 scheme. Even if the Cowboys offense is somewhat limited by Bryant’s absence, there is plenty of firepower still in their lineup to score a lot of points.
In the end, Dallas is fortunate to get such a favorable matchup against the 49ers on a day when they will likely be missing one of their stars. Even if the 49ers do pull off the upset, it will probably be because Dallas beats themselves on offense or special teams, not because they miss Dez Bryant.
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