John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Ever since the Dallas Cowboys played the Denver Broncos a little over a month ago, Dallas has managed to score 122 points. That averages out to about 24 points per game. To many NFL teams, that number is very good. The problem is that the defense has carried the weight for the Cowboys.
Against Denver, Tony Romo threw for over 500 yards and 5 touchdowns. Yes, he did throw a costly interception but Dallas still scored 48 points. Statistically speaking, Tony Romo has had one of his best seasons yet. Romo has a touchdown to interception ratio of 21/6. Romo also has a completion percentage of around 65%.
Nov 10, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running backDeMarco Murray
(29) breaks a tackle by New Orleans Saints outside linebackerWill Herring
(54) on a touchdown run during the first half of a game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Despite these numbers, the Cowboys have looked stagnant on offense all year. Many could blame the lack of a running game in Bill Callahan’s offense. But when the Cowboys do run, they’re very successful. DeMarco Murray was sidelined for 2 games because of an MCL injury. In last year’s offense, Dallas had an offensive line that surrendered 36 sacks. This year, the offensive line has improved drastically behind the play of Ronald Leary & Travis Frederick.
Tyron Smith has blossomed into a star in his third year in Dallas. It’s hard to believe the left tackle is only 22 years old, despite playing in his third year in the league. On the right side of the line, Doug Free has been playing much better since the Cowboys gave him a pay-cut in the off-season. This offensive line is above average, even though they have given up 22 sacks on the year.
It’s not like Dallas isn’t getting production from their receivers either. Dez Bryant has scored 8 touchdowns in only 10 games; he also has caught 52 passes for 749 yards. His production has been more in the red-zone than anywhere else. In fact, Dallas has improved in the red-zone compared to last year. Miles Austin has had yet another underwhelming year in Dallas. It’s almost safe to say that this could be his last year in Big D with his lack of production and productivity. He has been inactive for 5 games this season.
When Austin has played, he has put up 106 yards and one touchdown. His absence hasn’t been missed with the development of third round pick Terrance Williams. In his first year in Dallas, the Baylor product has caught 29 balls for just under 500 yards. He has also scored 5 touchdowns, even though he’s still a rookie learning the playbook. Williams has been able to fill in the missing void left behind by Miles Austin.
Nov 3, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight endJason Witten
(82) runs after a reception in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at AT
In 2013, the Cowboys have tried to start running a “12” personnel formation. The “12” personnel refers to two tight ends and one running back. This formation is modeled after the New England Patriots’ scheme with Rob Gronkowski and ex-NFL player Aaron Hernandez. Like always, Jason Witten has had a solid year. Witten has hauled in 47 balls for 532 yards to go along with 4 touchdowns. Witten’s production has been felt in the passing game and in the running game.
He is notoriously known around the league for being a great blocking tight end. His backups haven’t impressed as much.
The Cowboys wanted to start running the “12” so badly that they drafted tight end Gavin Escobar in the second round. Escobar has been a bust so far; the San Diego State alum has only caught 4 passes albeit one being a touchdown. Escobar’s main flaw is his inability to run block. It is too early to determine him as a bust forever, but his clock is ticking. The Cowboys clearly thought highly of him because they drafted him over many solid defensive linemen still on the board. The Cowboys passed on Margus Hunt, Arthur Brown, and D.J. Swearinger among others.
It is really unclear why Dallas hasn’t been able to find a rhythm on offense since the Denver game. The skill position players are in place. Even though he is one of the most criticized players in the league, Tony Romo is still a good quarterback. Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Dwayne Harris, and Cole Beasley are all playmakers. Jason Witten is one of the best tight ends around the league, and perhaps a future candidate for the Hall of Fame.
DeMarco Murray is more than capable of running over opposing defenses, as is the case by his game against the St. Louis Rams this year. Is it Bill Callahan‘s conservative play-calling? It doesn’t make sense how a team with so many offensive weapons can look so incredulously stagnant at times. Dallas doesn’t have any time to waste; regardless of their bye week this week. Dallas may have a must-win game in week 12 versus the rival New York Giants.