Addition by Subtraction: What We Learned and Gained in Week One Without Terrell Owens

Written by theMBIIIeffect

The first time I heard the phrase was from ESPN’s Skip Bayless.

The ever-opinionated Bayless weighed in on Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones’ offseason moves.

He thought the Cowboys would be better off for not having Adam “Pacman” Jones, Tank Johnson and, perhaps the recipient of the lion’s share of Bayless’ ire, Terrell Owens.

That the Cowboys added to their team’s chemistry and ultimately their postseason chances by subtracting from their roster.

And so, “addition by subtraction” was born.

Short, sweet, simple and on the tongues of Cowboys fans everywhere when trying to defend the release of Owens.

On Jones and Johnson, I heartily agreed with Bayless. But with Owens, whom Bayless calls “Team Obliterator,” I was unsure.

Where would his missing production come from? Who would bail us out on third-and-longs? Who would draw the double team to let us run our offense?

This first week has helped answer some of those questions and has led me to believe that the Dallas Cowboys are, and will continue to be, a better team without Owens.

As far as his missing production goes, just look a few spots down on last year’s depth chart. Everyone contributed against the Buccaneers on Sunday. Roy Williams might not be a real number 1 receiver like Owens was, but does it matter? Quarterback Tony Romo doesn’t have to feed him the ball throughout the game to keep him happy. He can find the open receiver and get him the ball, no worries.

This leads me to another point. Remember Marion Barber’s fourth-quarter touchdown run? Remember the block that Williams threw on that play? That block is the key block on that play. On that particular weak pitch, the difference between a touchdown and second down is Williams’ block. Now, if Terrell Owens hadn’t caught a pass since early in the third quarter, like Williams had, does Owens make that block, or does he take a play off as he’s known to do?

As far as the third-and-longs go, we didn’t find ourselves in that situation too often after gaining yards on first and second down. In those situations, however, Romo was able to find an open receiver-Tashard Choice on 3rd and 7 in the second quarter, Jason Witten on 3rd and 8 in the same drive-instead of having to look at Owens (in all honesty, his tendency to drop passes seemed to get worse on third down, so not having Owens here didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would).

Yesterday’s game showed me that we don’t need someone drawing a double-team to run our offense. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett can use motion like he did with Martellus Bennett to create similar match-up problems that he did with Owens (Disclaimer: I’m well aware that we played Tampa Bay on Sunday and their defense isn’t as strong as some we will face this year, but I do think they’re a fast, underrated defense).

The biggest difference I noticed was on the sideline, however.

There was no camera locked on Owens, waiting for his pouty bottom lip to stick out, for him to start yelling something or to confront Romo about passes not coming his way. There was no big, distracting celebration after a touchdown.

In fact, there was the opposite. Cameras browsed Dallas’ sidelines, looking for drama, but found nothing. After touchdowns, Cowboys crowded around the scorer to congratulate them.

Two in particular stood out to me: Tashard Choice and Martellus Bennett. The two searched out and congratulated each scorer with zeal, like they meant it, whether they were in the game or not, as was more often the case for both.

Neither of them played big parts in the game, neither put up big stats.

But their heads were still in the game.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not happy about having to replace Terrell Owens with Tashard Choice and Martellus Bennett.

I’m thrilled with it.

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Sunday, Sep 2828 Sep7:30New Orleans SaintsBuy Tickets

Tags: Adam Jones Jason Garrett Jason Witten Jerry Jones Marion Barber Martellus Bennett Roy Williams Skip Bayless Tank Johnson Tashard Choice Terrell Owens Tony Romo

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