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Jason Garrett Must Successfully Maneuver Cowboys Through Adversity: JJT

For a team built around the offensive line, Frederick is one of the Cowboys’ most important players

What to Know

  • Cowboys' center Travis Frederick announced Wednesday that he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.
  • According to the CDC, the disorder affects about one in 100,000 people.
  • Doctors have not given Frederick a time table for his return to the field, he said in the statement.

No one knows if Travis Frederick will play football again this season.

The Cowboys’ center has Guillain-Barré syndrome, an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks its nerves. He’s out indefinitely.

Frederick is among the NFL’s best centers — he hasn’t allowed a sack since Week 9 of the 2014 season. He handles all of the blocking assignments and protection schemes, so all Dak Prescott has to do is focus on the defensive coverages.

For a team built around the offensive line, Frederick is one of the Cowboys’ most important players.

Losing him hurts the Cowboys in a multitude of ways.

Still, it doesn’t give coach Jason Garrett a built-in excuse to survive a season that doesn’t meet expectations.

He’s either going to win a couple of playoff games, surpassing his total from the previous eight years as head coach combined, or none of us should be shocked if owner Jerry Jones fires him.

It’s really that simple.

The Eagles removed the injury excuse forever last year when they won the Super Bowl without MVP candidate quarterback Carson Wentz, left tackle Jason Peters, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, cornerback Ronald Darby, running back Darren Sproles and Chris Maragos, their best special teams player.

Their loss of Wentz in December made Nick Foles their starter. They proceeded to win the Super Bowl anyway.

Joe Looney is the next man up for the Cowboys.

The 7-year veteran has started 13 games. The opportunity shouldn’t be too big for him.

“He’s a veteran. He’s poised and he’s smart,” Garrett said. “He’s gotten a lot of work with the (starters) and he’s done a go do job.”

More important, Garrett has spent a lot of time he past few years teaching, training and imploring his team on ways to handle the rigors of a 16-game NFL season.

We’ve seen it both ways.

In 2014, the Cowboys lost Sean Lee to a torn knee ligament before the season, and they went 12-4 and won the NFC East.

The following year, they lost Tony Romo twice to a broken collarbone and stumbled to a 4-12 record with overmatched quarterbacks Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel struggling all season.

It’s why the Cowboys drafted Dak Prescott in the fourth round after failing to trade up in the draft so they could take Paxton Lynch.

When Tony Romo went down in the 2016 preseason, Prescott saved the season with 23 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 104.9 passer rating.

He helped Dallas post a 13-3 record, best in the NFC and secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, even though the Cowboys lost in the first round to Green Bay.

We all remember the defense falling apart last year when Lee missed games. The same was true for the offense in the second half of the season when injuries and suspensions robbed the Cowboys of left tackle Tyron Smith and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys failed to score more than 12 points in six of their final eight games and missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record.

A 21-12 home loss to Seattle ended their playoff hopes.

Garrett can’t have another repeat of last season’s missed opportunity.

This is the Cowboys’ best defense in years, and the last season Prescott is a bargain at less than $1 million. He’ll probably be making at least $20 million next season.

Lee is the only player who’s not a specialist under 30.

Garrett has had enough time to build a talented team that can survive a key injury.

In the NFL, every team must learn to thrive during adversity.

Philadelphia did it last year with second-year coach Doug Pederson; now it’s Garrett’s turn to show he can successfully maneuver the Cowboys through adversity.

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