Through four weeks of the season, the Dallas Cowboys have taken care of business. They sit at 3-1, capitalizing on a stretch of winnable games to start the season.
That's not to say the team hasn't impressed thus far. They can be considered one of the league's surprises through the first quarter of the season.
They continue to dominate up front offensively, boasting an elite rushing attack led by rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott.
Dak Prescott continues to improve on a weekly basis, and most importantly, remains turnover free.
The moment has never seemed too big for either first-year player. But now things get tougher.
Five of the next six games for Dallas are against tough opponents. Luckily for Dallas, a tilt with the league-worst Cleveland Browns is thrown in the mix. We will learn much more about what this team is made of in the coming weeks.
Here are some thoughts about the team as they face their toughest stretch of games on the year.
Surviving Key Injuries/Suspensions
When I look at how the Cowboys are built, it is clear who the most important players are on this team. Outside of the obvious importance on the quarterback position, it can be argued that Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith are the next up in terms of importance for this team's success.
With injuries to key slot coverage corner Orlando Scandrick and left guard La'el Collins, it was a rather impressive victory this past Sunday, considering. Not to mention missing their two best pass rushers as well.
The fact Dallas has survived these injuries and suspensions, all while looking pretty good in the process, says a lot about the team.
I get Prescott is the main difference from the play of last year's quarterbacks, but this team clearly has a different aura about it. The fact Dallas will get some of their key guys back in the coming weeks should provide a big boost as the schedule gets tougher.
Either way, their play with a depleted lineup last week was encouraging.
Pass Rush Must Improve
If Dallas wants to be for real and hang with some of the teams coming up on their schedule, the pass rush must improve now.
Getting DeMarcus Lawrence back next week will help the team, but this unit ranks towards the bottom of the league in sacks with six. This is the biggest question mark and scare for this team moving forward. Yes the team is 3-1, but the skill of opposing quarterback play on the schedule will rise in the coming weeks.
Facing off against some of the league's best quarterbacks in the coming weeks, some in their house, will be truly tough tests. Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger will shred Dallas if the pass rush does not improve.
When you look at some of the other upcoming match-ups too, Dallas has other good quarterbacks coming up that could perform well if not pressured by our front. Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, and even Carson Wentz cannot be allowed to get comfortable in the pocket.
How Will Dallas Look If Forced Off-Script?
This one is an interesting one for me to analyze.
I love Dak Prescott. I appreciate and respect everything he has accomplished thus far this year. I get that he hasn't had to be the guy to carry the team, make the big plays down the field, and bring this team back out of huge deficits. So there is an unknown element there as to where he stands in that portion of his game.
But it will be intriguing to see how Dallas looks if their run game is taken away or if Prescott is forced to carry the team offensively. Yes, the team fell behind 14-0 on Sunday, but it was still early enough to stick with their game plan.
This will most likely present itself in the coming weeks against better teams and some potent offenses. Not saying Prescott can't do it, but this is the main thinking that goes into bringing a guy like Tony Romo back in for the front office.
You have to ask yourselves this…
If Dallas gets in a high-scoring game or falls behind, are they truly built to hang around in these types of games without Tony Romo at the helm?
Just some food for thought.
Do you think the Cowboys will continue to win games and surprise in the coming weeks — weather the storm — or fall victim to this tough stretch of games? Test number one starts this Sunday against Cincinnati.