ARLINGTON, Texas - Bye weeks are almost universally appreciated by those in the NFL. They're even more enjoyable if you head into them coming off a win. But coming off a win that included even more injuries? Even better.
That's also where the Cowboys sit as they begin their bye week after thrashing the Bears 49-29 on Sunday. While yes Tony Pollard exploded for three touchdowns and over 100 rushing yards and Dak Prescott was solid again, the Cowboys find themselves needing to hit the reset button on some key players that are banged up.
Before the ball even kicked off against Chicago, Dallas would already be without Ezekiel Elliott, Sam Williams, Malik Hooker and Noah Brown with various injuries. Jourdan Lewis was lost for the season with a foot injury in Week 7 against the Lions.
By the end of the game the Cowboys saw Jayron Kearse, Donovan Wilson, Connor McGovern, Anthony Brown, and Anthony Barr all leave the game momentarily before returning. The lone exception was Barr, who would not return with a hamstring injury he suffered in the second quarter.
When asked after the game what he was looking forward to with the upcoming bye week, head coach Mike McCarthy plainly said he just wanted his team to get some time away with their families.
"I'm just looking for these guys to spend as much time as they can with their families, friends, and get away from it," McCarthy said. "This NFL season is a grind. 17 games are real. And that's the way we approach it."
The majority of the players mentioned above did return in Sunday's win against the Bears and even had success after the fact, including Kearse's sack of Justin Fields late in the fourth quarter. So in reality, the truth is that the Cowboys are facing nothing out of the normal for the midway point of a season.
But almost all of the key guys that are laboring through an injury reside on the defensive side of the ball. And more important, the side of the ball that has been the strength of the team through eight games and helped carry them to a 6-2 mark and led the league with 33 sacks.
So, why not give the guys a little extra motivation before the week off?
McCarthy said that he gave the players their bye week schedule a week in advance to give them some responsibility to "make sure they took care of business" against the Bears. Clearly the Cowboys did just that, but also had a strong week of practice that likely played a factor into the big performance.
"This was a good work week," McCarthy said. "I think when you have a good work week and you're rewarded, that's what I'm looking for. So these guys deserve this time that they have off."
The good news of it all is that for all of the major injuries the Cowboys sustained through the first eight weeks, from Dak Prescott and Tyron Smith, to Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott, their bye comes at a time when they don't have any major injuries.
Just a few guys who could greatly benefit from a week off. But as McCarthy said, that's unlikely to be the case from this bunch.
"The reality of it is a lot of them won't [take time off,]" McCarthy said, "They'll be in here at the facility. That's just kind of the way this group is wired. But its a good time for us as a football team to have a bye week."