Austin’s Emergence Means Cowboys Might Actually Be Legit
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During the 2007 season, the Dallas Cowboys won 13 regular season games behind a healthy, effective Tony Romo, a fantastic year from a 34 year old Terrell Owens, a very good season from No. 2 WR Patrick Crayton, and a typical between the hashes season from superstar TE Jason Witten.
Put simply, Romo played well, and the Cowboys had some GREAT weapons, as well as some good OL play. A year later, the OL fell apart, Owens vastly declined, and much of what the Cowboys offense accomplished was done with smoke and mirrors, and Romo’s third down play. The 2008 Cowboys were never a great offense. They had no help from the outside, not from mid-season acquisition Roy Williams, not from Owens, not from Crayton. Jason Witten had a nice year, but the offense was not dynamic, it was merely functional, and only when Romo was healthy enough to make all the throws.
Simply, the Cowboys weren’t going to be a factor in 2008 unless the Cowboys could get back to being the type of offense they were in 2007. Over the first five weeks of the season, the Cowboys showed they could establish balance and run the football as well as any team in the NFL, but they did not show that they could sustain that balance. Tony Romo was putting up good numbers, even prior to this last game against Atlanta, but his mistakes had been so mind-bogglingly awful that it was tough to see the Cowboys as a contender if the passing game was so horribly flawed.
But in their last two games, the Cowboys, and Romo in particular, have developed quite the number one target. Instead of sticking with what wasn’t working in the passing game, and trying to justify the ridiculous trade for WR Roy Williams from Detroit, Romo has completed 421 yards worth of passes to their third receiver, Miles Austin, an undrafted WR from Monmouth who has been in the Cowboys’ system for 4 years.
Of course, that was third receiver Miles Austin. Now, it’s go-to receiver Miles Austin, not only the best receiver on the Cowboys, but perhaps the very best route runner in the NFC East. It’s Austin who will allow Patrick Crayton to go back to the slot where he has been effective in the past before, and will allow Roy Williams to hopefully settle in as a No. 2 reciever on a team that still has that running game to balance it’s passing game.
The unsung heroes in the remaking of the Cowboys offense is, well, the offensive line. (No disrespect meant towards Marc Colombo’s career as a vocalist). It’s an offensive line that was just horrendous last year, but now with a healthy drummer Guard in Kyle Kosier, the offensive line has solidified itself as a competent unit in a division dominated by defense (and generally poor OL play).
For the Cowboys to be competitve, they have to have the best offense in the division to account for their defensive shortcomings. And with Romo functioning with help from Miles Austin, Kyle Kosier, Jason Garrett, and a three-headed running game, the new Cowboys are the best offense in their division, and a team that could ride this newfound strength all the way to the NFC playoffs.