The Dallas Cowboys survived the loss of Tony Romo, holding off the Philadelphia Eagles for an ugly 20-10 victory on Sunday.
Here's what you need to know:
- Although the Cowboys are the NFC East's lone undefeated team two weeks into the season, major injuries could lead to a tailspin. This team captured the division last season on the strength MVP candidate Romo, Offensive Player of the Year DeMarco Murray and All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant. Now that Romo has a fractured clavicle to go with Bryant's fractured foot, none of those "triplets" will be available for at least the next month -- and likely much longer. Whereas Romo had been successful with a ball-control passing game, backup Brandon Weeden doesn't possess the touch or field vision to pull off that brand of offensive attack. During Weeden's one spot start last season, the coaching staff did all it could to limit the quarterback's impact on the game. Weedon's teams have won just five of his 21 career starts.
- This was a comprehensive meltdown for the Eagles' offense, which started the game in wholly inept fashion for the second consecutive week. The difference this time is that the ineptitude lingered for four quarters rather than just two. Sam Bradford was no different than the devolving quarterback we saw in St. Louis over the past few years, failing to see the whole field, making suspect decisions and staring at the pass rush as his confidence comes and goes. To be fair, Bradford got no help. The offensive line had no answer for Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's stunts, which left DeMarco Murray with minus-15 yards at one point in the game. Philly's receivers also failed to make plays, suffering from a case of the drops once again. Garbage time aside, this was one of the most head-scratching offensive performances we've seen in recent years. FOX broadcast Troy Aikman, who played for 1989 Cowboys team that was shut out three times, lamented at one point, "I can't recall an offense that I've seen look worse than this Eagles offense."
- Despite Murray's ineffectiveness, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles saw just one carry apiece. Mathews, in particular, languished on the bench. It will be interesting to see how long the leashes are for Murray and Bradford if the offense goes in the tank for quarters at a time versus the Jets next week.
- For all of the preseason fantasy football handwringing over Joseph Randle versus Darren McFadden, passing-down specialist Lance Dunbar has been the most valuable member of the Dallas backfield. Much like the Patriots and Dion Lewis, the Cowboys won't hesitate to align Dunbar as a wide receiver to take advantage of mismatches with linebackers.
- Between the Eagles' incompetence and the injuries to the Cowboys' two most valuable players, the NFC East is wide open. The Redskins' defense has allowed just 20 points in two games, while the offense has averaged 172 yards on the ground behind Alfred Morris and rookie sensation Matt Jones.