The injury bug has slapped the Dallas Cowboys in the face. Going into the season as a serious title contender, this lethal offense has lost its most potent weapons in Tony Romo and Dez Bryant for, at least, 8 weeks. Go ahead and add Jason Witten to the equation (who could be out 3 weeks) and what you're left with is a squad that has Cowboys fans chanting for Tim Tebow and Terrell Owens (both would be ridiculous acquisitions and totals wastes of money and roster space). However, if the Cowboys wish to endure the two month plague they're about to go through, they must apply the "next man up" mentality. A few names come to mind but none more athletic and huge than third year Tight End Gavin Escobar.
At 6'6" and 260 lbs, Escobar is way too big for any corner back or safety to man up and far too much of an athlete for a line backer to cover. So it's no surprise why I, and many Cowboy fans alike, expect big numbers out of him. At this point in his career, his numbers have been anything but flattering with just 7 total TDs thus far in his short career. Some of that is due to the plethora of talent Dallas has had on the offensive side of the ball. There is simply not enough football to go around. some has been the run heavy scheme Scott Linehan has put in place behind that behemoth offensive line. However, if there were ever a time for a kid to shine, it's now.
In the weeks to come, with Brandon Weeden at the helm and the run game without a true dominant back, I'm looking for teams to stack the box against this Dallas offense and test the run game, making Weeden beat them with his arm. Assuming Weeden can get him the ball accurately, this should bode well for Escobar.
As you can see, the Falcons have 6 in the box and a corner back manned up against a similar Larry Donell on the bottom of the screen. At 6'6" 265, there is just no way for this corner to cover Donnell, pair that with great protection for Eli Manning, and the result is a touchdown:
Here's a look at Escobar's only TD this season in week one vs the Giants.
First and goal from the three, 9 times out of 10 the Cowboys run it here. This time they run a play action. Escobar is doubled by a corner and linebacker at the top of the screen. He pushes his way through the double team, splits the zone and Romo finds him in the back of the end zone for a TD.
The Cowboys have a rough stretch without their premier scoring threats but between Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley, and Gavin Escobar, assuming Weeden gets protected as well as Romo and can deliver the ball accurately, the offense should be capable of putting points on the board. Its all a matter of the "next man up" mentality. If these key guys can prove their worth, we'll find Dallas as a legit contender for the Super Bowl come December when Romo and Bryant return.