Through the first two weeks of the season, injuries and inconsistent performance have hampered Dallas’ production on both sides of the ball. This pivotal Cowboys quartet have the opportunity to change the early season storyline against a Bears team limping into their week 3 meeting.
Tyrone Crawford: Is Crawford actually a defensive end? The most exposed of the ‘Rushmen’ to the eyes of Dallas fans, the generously paid 3-technique transitioned to left end on a starting basis against Chicago. Power, violent hands and relentless effort lie at the heart of Crawford’s work outside, where he doesn’t boast the quickness to win as a pure speed rusher. However, we did see around-the-edge production from Crawford against Washington, so could Rod Marinelli find this scheme’s ‘tweener’ version of Michael Bennett in the 5th year lineman?
Anthony Brown: Is Brown the Cowboys’ next inside-out corner? The Purdue product boasts top-gear speed, opportunistic ball skills and a feel for timing his drive on the ball. If a questionable Orlando Scandrick sees a diminished role against the Bears, Brown will need to show his preseason flashes were just the tip against the likes of savvy veteran Eddie Royal and physically imposing sophomore Kevin White. The near future at cornerback on this roster is far from defined, and Brown can wrestle a larger role than expected early with a hip-pocket performance against the versatile Chicago receiving corps.
La’el Collins: Is he really the best left guard on the roster? Collins has been all too inconsistent with technique and sustaining blocks (not alone there) through the opening fortnight of the 2016 season. On the move, he’s still flashed as an outstandingly mobile downfield blocker, and improved his play in Week 2. But the would-be first rounder from a year ago needs to sharpen on a down-by-down basis, particularly with Tyron Smith dealing with multiple ailments to his outside. If not, the growing calls for the return of Ron Leary to the starting five will ring louder around the halls of the Star.
Ezekiel Elliott: Are we prepping for a Zeke feast? The numbers have been well discussed; low yards-per-carry and fumbles high amongst them. What’s clear is that fourth overall pick in the draft and the most-hyped offensive line in the league have not gelled into the wave of perpetual destruction we anticipated. Between questions over blocks being sustained, rushed decisions from Elliott and a hamstring injury that robbed the rookie of match fitness, the masses are awaiting a performance that re-stamps this offense as the best game-control unit in the conference. There have been moments when the former Buckeye star looks just that, but the breakout hasn’t occurred just yet. That could very well come against a Bears front gutted of standout starters Eddie Goldman and Danny Trevathan, ripe for the taking.