The Dallas Cowboys were close, though not close enough, to starting with the surprise of beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the opening game of the 2021 season, while the Chargers began beating Washington Football Team. Cowboys and Chargers looked very good in their respective meetings and now meet in Week 2 in a game that puts the Cowboys, very soon, in a moderately desperate situation.
This is the panorama facing both teams.
The Cowboys’ casualties and the duel in the trenches
You have to start by noting that at least four important players, maybe five, will not be available for this Sunday. On the offensive side, the absences are Michael Gallup and La’el Collins.
It can be argued that Gallup is not a starting player, but he is certainly an important piece to take off the balance of rival secondary schools, as he is very talented and when he is at the same time as CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper on the field, some of the three have a matchup very favorable, either against the third corner, against a safety or at best against a linebacker. Lamb and Cooper can handle the package, but it certainly won’t be the same.
The one that seems most concerning is the absence of Collins, since if anything became clear last week it is that Joey Bosa and Nwosu Uchenna are a problem to be contained by alternating sides in the lineup. Both Bosa and his record speak for themselves, which even facilitates the work of Uchenna, who takes advantage of the opportunities perfectly. It must be remembered that it was Uchenna who was responsible for the coup that left Ryan Fitzpatrick out.
On the defensive side, the names that must be mentioned as low are DeMarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore, three pieces of the front that leave the team very unprotected.
Lawrence is the best element of the team’s defensive group and had a very good game against Tampa Bay’s solid offensive line, even causing a fumble. Today we know that he suffered a broken ball of his foot on a routine play during training and will be out for a couple of months.
The second best pass rusher of the team we can say is Gregory, who is on the COVID-19 list has been ruled out to participate on Sunday. To make matters worse, these two names are added to the previously known absence of Gallimore, who has been injured since the preseason.
What is worrying is that the depth of the unit now features Tarrell Basham and Dorace Armstrong as its pass rushers alternating with Bradley Anae and Chauncey Golston, while on the inside it will be Carlos Watkins and Osa Odighizuwa again the headlines. Last week the Chargers’ offensive line handled one of the best front-ends in the league, the WFT, pretty well, so these names shouldn’t present much of a problem for them.
This is where things can get interesting, as both teams have an interesting collection of skilled players capable of making big plays on both offense and defense.
On the part of the Cowboys, it was clear that this is Dak Prescott’s team and that they will go as far as he takes them by pitching Lamb, Cooper and engaging their tight ends. Ezekiel Elliott will surely be more involved than what we saw in the previous game and could take the load off the offense. This group had 451 total yards last week (third best in the league).
In front of them they will have a capable defensive group that with their main corner Chris Harris, his complement, Michael Davis, plus the safeties Derwin James and Nasir Adderley, last game allowed the fewest passing yards in the entire league (133). Of course, it must be taken into account that his starting QB was injured, but the weapons that Washington presents are not to be despised.
The Chargers, meanwhile, are also in a good offensive moment with a Justin Herbert who showed growth and maturity compared to last season and last Sunday perfectly involved his receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams in complementary roles. In addition, Austin Ekeler can contribute a lot both on the ground and in the air.
The Cowboys defense, while showing some improvement and promise at times from last year, still has a lot to improve. Without a doubt the best, in addition to the already mentioned Lawrence, was Trevon Diggs, who limited Mike Evans to three receptions for 24 yards and next Sunday could do something similar with Williams or Allen.
The possible consequences of defeat
For either team a defeat complicates their scenario. The Chargers cannot take their foot off the gas because they are in a division in which everyone is 1-0 heading into Week 2 and they face games that, for some more than others, may be in the category of winnable and they don’t want to get behind in the standings.
The 0-2 record is looking the Cowboys in the eye and they seem to have a very tough job to avoid it. If it happens, they would be accompanying the Giants – losers of the game that opened Week 2 on TNF – at the bottom of the division, while the winner will be 1-1 and it remains to be seen what Philadelphia has to say. in their game Sunday against the 49ers, but they don’t look like favorites at the moment.
In such a way, there would be two teams 1-1 and another two with 0-2, which means that, despite the perception that the world is about to end with such a record, things would still be very within reach, especially in a season where there is one more game than we used to have.