FRISCO, Texas -- After five games the Dallas Cowboys are 2-3. Is it too soon to wonder if this season has 8-8 written all over it?
There are 11 games left to figure it all out, but it’s the bye week and it’s time for Five Wonders.
Away we go:
Money generally trumps all when it comes to free agency. Players will go where the cash is most of the time. But I wonder if Jerry Jones' promise to bench players who are "disrespectful to the flag" by not standing for the national anthem will hurt the team in free agency. The Cowboys have gotten away from spending big money on free agents the last few years, but they could be in position to add players of note next March. Could Jones’ comments cause some players to eliminate the Cowboys from the process? Jones is standing on a principle here, which is his right. But free agents could possibly stand on a principle and choose to not even consider the Cowboys.
I wonder if Sean Lee deserves a raise. If you can’t see how valuable he has been to the Cowboys defense in the last two weeks, then you don’t know the definition of valuable. It’s not that the Cowboys would have beaten the Rams and Packers, but you can bet Lee shored up the defense at least some. In the last 32 games Lee has played since 2015, the Cowboys have allowed just three 100-yard rushers. In the last five they have played without him since 2015, they have allowed three 100-yard rushers. It’s not that Lee makes every tackle, although he comes close. It’s that he gets everybody in the right spots and this defense is predicated on proper gap control. Against Green Bay, the Cowboys got out of their gaps too much.
I wonder if the Cowboys will look at Byron Bell at left guard at some point soon. Chaz Green started the first three games and it wasn’t smooth. He came out with a hip injury before the Cowboys played the Rams, which allowed Jonathan Cooper to start the past two games. It’s not been clean there, either. Bell is bigger than Green and Cooper and might not move as well but the Cowboys have to shore up their pass protection up the middle. Dak Prescott is having to do too much on his own. Bell has starting experience (72 games started in his career). Coaches can talk about offensive line continuity all they want. It’s not the optimal route to go with a third different left guard already but what has been on display so far has not been optimal either. Oh, in case you were wondering, I don’t wonder if the Cowboys will move La’el Collins back to left guard. They are married to him at right tackle.
I wonder if Nolan Carroll’s roster spot is secure only due to injuries to other corners. He was able to practice last week without any apparent issues and was inactive for the second straight game. If not for the injuries suffered in training camp by Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, I wondered earlier if he would have made the team at the outset. Awuzie’s recurring hamstring issues likely save Carroll, but the Cowboys appear content to go with Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown and Lewis as their top three cornerbacks.
I wonder if it’s a good thing the Cowboys will play just one home game over the next five weeks. AT&T Stadium has not been a big home-field advantage since opening in 2009. The Cowboys seem to enjoy the us-against-the-world mentality needed on the road. They were able to jump-start their 2016 season at San Francisco after falling behind 14-0 with a 24-17 win against the Niners. After their bye week, maybe a trip to Santa Clara will do them well again.