IRVING, Texas - As the Cowboys come back from the Thanksgiving Day break, this is the time of year when things start to heat up. With four games left on the schedule, the Cowboys are 7-5 with a legitimate shot to make the playoffs as they remain tied for first in the NFC East.
Football analyst Bryan Broaddus answers a few pressing questions about the current state of the Cowboys.
1. How much will Lance Dunbar's injury affect the offense? Do they have anyone to replace that added dimension?
Broaddus: The loss of Dunbar takes away the ability for this offense to have that player that can make those loose plays in the open field. He just brought a different dynamic for the pace in which he played. With Murray it's a steady pounding and you get use to that style on defense, then all of the sudden, you had the ball to Dunbar and he is into the second level in a flash. What is a shame is that they didn't use him more this season in that role. Coaches will tell you that injuries and ball security were reasons but he is just such a different type of back when you can get him rolling. Those loose plays are going to have to come from Cole Beasley in the passing game because as they are set up now, they don't have a Lance Dunbar type of back on this roster.
2. How would you assess Tyron Smith's play at left tackle lately? [embedded_ad]
Broaddus: Tyron Smith has become more of a complete left tackle. He has always been an outstanding athlete when it comes to handling his man in the passing game but now, he has become more of a sustaining run blocker. His technique has improved and with Ronald Leary next to him, they have helped this offense run the ball for 6.6 yards per carry behind them. There used to be a time where Smith feared getting beat up the field and you would see him set hard to the outside and struggle to adjust back inside, but today, he is much more balanced and comfortable coming out of this stance. No matter who he is facing, he has shown the ability to take that rusher, completely out of the game.
3. You always talk about waiting until Thanksgiving to really gauge the team. Well, here we are. So just where are the Cowboys right now in your mind. If they got into the playoffs, are they good enough to do any damage?
Broaddus: I have my questions about this defense and how well they could really play playoff football. Offensively, if they execute, they could be a hard out because of all the matchup problems they create. In my mind, I just remember the Denver game and how well things went that day on the offensive side of the ball against a club that has a real shot to be in the Super Bowl if the road goes through their backyard. Then I remember about the night in New Orleans where nothing went right for the defense and that leaves me with concern. I feel like the offense and special teams give this team a chance in any game but getting those defensive stops in playoffs games are what are the difference between winning and losing so there you problem.