Five Things I’ll Be Thinking About as I Watch the Cowboys Offense vs. 49ers

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1. When will the next opportunity for criticizing Jason Witten (for anything other than his commercials) come? Will it be before or after his Hall of Fame induction speech?

And, no I am not talking about him getting tackled on the 1 yard line by someone relatively diminutive( Witten is listed at 265; Leonard 188). I see nothing to criticize: Witten thought he could outrun him to the endzone; he was an inch (the part of his foot that hit the sideline) away from being right. I can’t fault him for that, but I was shocked by a decision he made earlier on that same drive.

On 1st and 10 from their own 20, up by 7 points with only 11:56 remaining, Witten caught a 6 yard pass, turned upfield, got the first down, and then sidestepped out of bounds rather than charge into Revis. Part of my displeasure was the fact that he missed an opportunity to put a serious hit on Revis. But more importantly, it stopped the clock. He should have kept the ball in bounds.

Not a huge mistake, but if you want to criticize Witten, you have to nit-pick. I will be watching to test my hypothesis that Witten will play mistake-free and hard-nosed football for the rest of his career.

2. Will Dockery get the start over Nagy? More importantly, will Dockery improve the overall run-blocking?

Despite a fairly promising beginning with Jones, the Cowboys never really got the running game going last week. Many would argue that if your aerial attack is good enough, you don’t need a great running game (please stay tuned for an engaging, exciting, and enlightening poll on this important issue at the end of this 2 part article). Garret likes to use the pass to set up the run, but I believe they need to get more production out of the running game. Against a tough Jets defense, they averaged less than 3 yards a carry for only 64 yards.

According to the run blocking stats generated by the guys at “Pro Football Focus”, Nagy graded out much lower than any of the other lineman. If they do run the ball more effectively against the 49ers, it may be difficult to tell whether Dockery is a serious upgrade from Nagy, or whether they are just facing a weaker defense. I will be watching to see if they can improve the rushing attack, and if it does improve, who should get the credit?

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