Dallas Cowboys vs. New England Patriots Preview: Offense

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2. Will Dez Bryant continue to make me think that he is contemplating a career as a magician?

Will this be the week he plays a full game and proves his is worthy of wearing 88?

Dez may want to become an illusionist so he could fully exploit his 2nd half disappearing acts.  But seriously, he seems to regularly morph from a 1st half beast to 2nd half ghost.  I don’t know whether it is the nagging injury, conditioning, or a lack of focus, but he needs demonstrate that he can play for a full 4 quarters.

I will be watching to see if there is any chance that he is facing more double coverage in the second half.  I will also be watching to see if he looks tired as the game progresses and whether his route running looks lazy/sloppy in the second half.

3. The running game: can Felix Jones quiet all the fans who want to give his job to Peyton Hillis?  (click here to read about that)

I have argued in the past that the Cowboy’s offense, the OL in particular, is built for an elusive back with speed like Jones, not a bruising back like Hillis.  Given that the Pats are so horrendous defending the pass, there should be plenty of opportunities to gouge them with play-action runs.  If Romo & Co. can get out to a lead (which I believe they can), Felix will have a chance to showcase his skills.

In watching the first couple games, it seems as though Felix lacks patience on some of his runs; he sometimes neglects to wait for the play to develop.  He has also missed some of the cut-back lanes that were available.

Running the ball between the tackles will be extremely difficult against Albert Haynesworth ( I hope Garrett lectured the offense about making sure their helmets are on tight) and the mammoth Vince Wilfork, so I will be watching to see if the Cowboys try to get the RB’s outside the tackles on tosses, stretch plays, sweeps, screens, etc.

I will be watching to see if Felix can finally show that he has the vision necessary to be an effective ball carrier.

I will also be watching to see how Garrett divvies up the carries between the 3 backs.  Tashard Choice averaged an impressive 6.5 yards on his 6 carries against Detroit; that should warrant a few more carries this week.

Has he earned more playing time?

I will also be watching to see if the bye week provided enough time for DeMarco Murray to learn the offense and whether he has made the coaches comfortable enough to play him consistently on 3rd downs.  Despite what we have seen so far this year, I am still under the impression that he was drafted to be the 3rd down back.

Another interesting match-up will be to see how Bill Nagy (Dockery is a scratch for Sunday) and Costa hold up against the two huge interior lineman of the Patriots.

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