ARLINGTON, TEXAS – DECEMBER 04: Anthony Brown #3 of the Dallas Cowboys is carted off the field after sustaining an injury in the third quarter of a game against the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium on December 04, 2022 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Here we are on Monday morning, and it’s quite possible that the Cowboys are still scoring.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Cowboys led by just two points, and then the floodgates opened. Dallas put up 33 points in the final 15 minutes of last night’s 54-19 smashing of the Colts, but it wasn’t all high fives and back slaps after the game.
The injury bug jumped up and bit a position that is already thin on the Cowboys’ defense.
Late in the fourth quarter, Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown was carted off with a leg injury that is feared to be season-ending per owner Jerry Jones. Brown will have tests today to confirm the team’s suspicions of a possible Achilles tear.
A huge damper on a monster win.
The Cowboys came into the season with seven cornerbacks – Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis, C.J. Goodwin, Kelvin Joseph, DaRon Bland, Nahshon Wright, and Brown.
And if we’re being honest, they really had only three they trusted — Diggs, Brown, and Lewis — when the season started. The trust in Bland has grown since being thrown into the fire during the Week 4 win over Washington.
So, if Brown is lost for the season, the Cowboys will be down to just three corners – Diggs, Joseph, and Bland – with a significant amount of playing time.
With the Cowboys playing a 4-2-5 defense under coordinator Dan Quinn to begin the season, they started Diggs, Brown, and Lewis in coverage spots. That left Bland and Joseph in backup roles and playing on special teams, while Wright only suited up on game day if needed because of injury. Goodwin is around strictly as a special teams ace.
It was the perfect setup until the injuries started to happen.
First, Jourdan Lewis went down with a Lisfranc fracture of the foot that ended his season in the Week 7 win over Detroit. Lewis, who had 23 tackles, one sack, and one interception, had surgery the next day but will be out until the start of the 2023 season.
Lewis’ injury pushed rookie DaRon Bland into the starting lineup, and the defense didn’t miss a beat.
Bland, who has three interceptions, is tied for the team lead with Diggs, despite playing just under 40% of the snaps this season.
Now, after going to the bench once for Bland, they will have to go to it again to replace Brown.
Brown, playing on the final year of a three-year deal, was having an outstanding year.
Before Sunday’s game against Indianapolis, Brown had played 93% of the snaps, the second most on defense this season, while being credited with 39 tackles, six passes defended, and a forced fumble.
But Brown’s injury, late in the fourth quarter, will push Joseph into the starting lineup, and that is something that should worry Cowboys fans.
The second-round pick in 2021, Joseph has been unable to crack the starting lineup, despite all the chances he has been given since being drafted.
He couldn’t beat out Brown or Lewis to start the season. He couldn’t beat out Bland when Lewis went down.
Joseph has played just 58 of a possible 734 defensive snaps this season, while Wright has no snaps on defense.
But now, the Cowboys have no choice but to put Joseph, or Wright, out there and live with their play.
What was once a strength, now becomes a concern for a team that has its sights set on the NFC East crown and a deep run in the postseason.
Buckle up, Cowboys fans; it is likely to be a bumpy ride to the finish.