FRISCO, Texas – Fist bump to Tyrone Crawford.
Man, the guy tried. Tried real hard to get right for this season. Tried, despite the pain in both hips, to do as much as he could to rehab, to take whatever was needed to relieve the pain in his hips. Both of them.
Because, after all, he knew, the eventuality, even if he could struggle through this season with the Cowboys, would result in hip surgery. He was resigned to that a few weeks back, during those two weeks he was inactive. And pretty down in the dumps.
No one relishes surgery.
But that's what it came to on Tuesday for Crawford after playing just 42 snaps in the past two games. The pain wasn't subsiding, and he knew his play level was just not him, not what he was used to over the previous seven years during his career with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys knew it, too. It was time.
So on Wednesday here at The Star, Crawford seemed somewhat relieved the decision had been made. He's going to have two surgeries, first on one hip and then on the other he said. Probably going to take him a total of six months to heal and rehab.
Where he goes from here, he's unsure. He turns 30 on Nov. 22. Has just one more year on his contract, the base $8 million. There is only $1.1 million in restructure proration against the cap next year. Who knows what 2020 will bring.
But the Cowboys know there will be a huge void left on the defensive line this year, losing his experience and leadership. Remember he once was a team captain.
Losing his versatility. Not many guys are capable of playing defensive end and defensive tackle at Crawford's level. Even if he wasn't starting – he did start the first two games of the season at right defensive end with Robert Quinn serving his two-game suspension – he was a valuable rotation guy.
Then losing his talent, able to play, at just 272 pounds he pointed out to me, both of those positions at an impactful level.
While Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett did emphasize the importance of his versatility, he made a point of saying his level of talent will be the overriding loss.
"Obviously, he's been one of our better players on the defensive line for a numbers of years," Garrett said of the guy who started 76 of the 96 games he's played during his career. "He's been dealing with those hip injuries for a while. He did everything he could to rehab to try and come back to play. He tried it. Worked hard in practice. Played through pain in games.
"But ultimately, we made the decision he just needs to go get it fixed. Obviously disappointing. He's had a big impact on our team, but it's the right thing to do for him, now and in the future."
Now it's another next man up right behind starting defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Antwaun Woods. Looking at you No. 97, rookie Trysten Hill, the Cowboys' second-round draft choice this year they had been bringing along slowly, the defensive tackle having been a game-day inactive in three of the six games, including this past one.
The Cowboys also will need to lean on versatile defensive ends Kerry Hyder and Joe Jackson for more snaps inside, and we'll see just how soon recently-signed Justin Hamilton, who practiced for the first time on Wednesday after arriving here Tuesday night, can fit into the rotation.
The Cowboys must move on, and in a hurry. This game waits for no one.
And neither do these shots.
- Three Of A Kind: OK, the Cowboys are saddled with a three-game losing streak, evening their record after the season-opening three-game winning streak, but remain tied for first with the Eagles in the NFC East. As Garrett pointed out after Sunday's lost to the Jets, "Ultimately, everything that we want will be determined by what we do from this moment forward," Garrett said. "We just have to get back to work, take it one day at a time and try to get better as a football team." Pulling out of such a tailspin is not unprecedented. In 1991, the Cowboys lost two straight and three of four after a 4-2 start. Then at 6-5 won the final five straight. In 1979, the Cowboys lost three straight in what turned out to be Roger Staubach's final season, only to win three straight to finish 11-5 and win the NFC East. In 1974, the Cowboys pulled out of a four-game losing streak and at 1-4 would win seven of nine to finish 8-6. And in 1965, like 55 seasons ago, the Cowboys lost five straight, but at 2-5 won five of the next seven to finish 7-7, their first non-losing season in franchise history. Let's not jump from the windowsills just yet.
- Slow Playing: Must be contagious. We know the Cowboys in five of their six games have trailed by a combined score of 75-12 before mounting comebacks, winning the two they only trailed by 7-0 in each. But the Eagles are suffering from the same malaise. In five of their six games, the Eagles have trailed by at least 10 points, coming back to win just two. Trailed Washington 17-0, Atlanta 17-6, Detroit 20-10, Green Bay 10-0 and Minnesota 24-3. Only opponent they didn't trail was, uh, the Jets.
- Feed Zeke: Not sure where this perception began that the Cowboys are growing offensively conservative. Do you realize the Cowboys are doing their best to protect their quarterback without both of their starting offensive tackles, and are trying not to expose them to overwhelming pass rushes when teams know they are going to pass, pass, pass? Face it, Cam Fleming and Brandon Knight are NOT Tyron Smith and La'el Collins. Also, on top of that, this last game they were without Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb. Use your common sense. Now, going forward, maybe you need a reminder when playing the Eagles, and mine came from Talkin' Cowboys teammate Bill Jones. Here were Ezekiel Elliott's numbers last year against the Eagles: First game, 27-20 Cowboys, Zeke ran 19 times for 151 yards and a touchdown, along with catching six passes for 36 yards and a touchdown – totaling 25 touches for 187 yards and two touchdowns. In the second meeting, 29-23 Cowboys in OT, Zeke had 28 carries for 113 yards, plus 12 catches for 79 yards – totaling 40 touches for 192 yards, in the same game Cooper had three touchdown receptions. So in two games against the Eagles for Zeke last season, that's 65 touches for 379 yards and two TDs. Would you take half of that on Sunday, 32.5 touches for 189.5 yards? I think you would, I think you would.
- Midweek Shots: My gosh, Kirk Cousins threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns this past Sunday against the Eagles, while the Vikings ran for another 122 yards and a touchdown … While the Cowboys had seven players not practicing on Wednesday, so did the Eagles, including six starters. The Eagles are hoping to get wide receiver DeSean Jackson back for this game, but as expected he did not practice on Wednesday, having been out since Week 2 with an ab strain … Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, referring back to the fourth-and-2 sequence against the Jets, followed by the 92-yard touchdown: "A catastrophe." … Here is another stat: The Eagles are scoring touchdowns on 70 percent of their red zone possessions so far, and the Cowboys are limiting opponents to 11 touchdowns on 22 red zone possessions, 50 percent.
And finally, this team needs to get healthy, needs to figure out how to get a win. If for no other reason than for a talented team to regain confidence. Stay tuned.