The Dallas Cowboys finished with a losing record of 4-12 in 2015, and I think we can all agree that the main reason the season ended so badly was because of the rash of injuries that befell some of the key contributors on both offense and defense.
The injuries to quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant received most of the publicity, and rightfully so, but there are other members in the Cowboys roster that impacted the overall performance as well.
Did you know that cornerback Brandon Carr played the majority of the season with a shoulder injury?
How about the fact that defensive end Jeremy Mincey had an elbow injury that kept him from being able to fully straighten his arm?
Also, did you know defensive end Tyrone Crawford battled through a shoulder injury the majority of the season that impacted his effectiveness?
In Crawford’s case the injury required off-season surgery, but according to Twitter it sounds as if his shoulder is already twice as strong as it was during the 2015 season.
Tyrone Crawford said at the end of last season he couldn’t bench 225 pounds because of his shoulder injury. Now, he’s maxing at 450
Crawford at 100% should greatly benefit the Cowboys defensive line and boost the pass rush, but there is one player’s return that I am greatly anticipating, Orlando Scandrick.
Orlando Scandrick was lost for the entire 2015 season when he was injured in practice on August 25. Scandrick went to the ground when he was trying to cover wide receiver Lucky Whitehead and ended up tearing both his ACL and MCL in his knee.
I know we can probably argue back and forth about who might be more important to the defense in 2016 between Tyrone Crawford and Orlando Scandrick, but I fully believe that Scandrick’s return is more beneficial.
It’s the chicken and the egg argument all over again. The better the pass rush, the better the secondary will perform. And then there is the opposing argument that the longer the secondary can cover the receivers, the more time the pass rush has to get to the quarterback.
Since we know there is an uncertainty about who exactly will start at defensive end and rush the passer for the beginning of the season due to Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence’s four-game suspension, the more time the fill ins have to get to the QB, the better. This is where Scandrick’s return will probably help the most.
Depending on who you talk to, #32 is the Cowboys best cornerback. He may not be the most physically gifted, but he makes up for it in feistiness.
Scandrick is a student of the game and it really shows through his play on the field. He has been regulated to playing out of the slot the majority of his career, but he’s just as capable of playing outside as well. In fact, you may remember that he beat out Morris Claiborne back in 2014 to win the starting spot opposite Brandon Carr.
Personally, I’m hoping that his return can inject some attitude into not only the secondary, but the entire defense.
The Cowboys defense doesn’t really have that emotional leader, and I think that something #32 will provide once he returns. His presence should help everyone in the secondary and I think this will be especially true for Byron Jones who is hoping to avoid a sophomore slump.
He has always played with a chip on his shoulder, probably having something to do with being drafted in the fifth round, but it’s that chip that has made him the player he is today.
I’m personally expecting really good things from the defense in 2016. I think they proved to us in 2015 that they can keep the score close enough to win games, despite not getting much help from the offense.
Scandrick’s return should only help solidify an already solid defensive unit and hopefully he is able to inject some of that attitude he’s been carrying around for a while now.
So, let’s just all hope that the injuries that decimated the Cowboys in 2015 don’t rear their ugly head once again.
It’s time to get things back on track and I think the return of Orlando Scandrick is just one of the stepping stones that can be used to put the team back into contention.