This week I will be looking at the rest of the offensive positions. This includes the wide receivers, tight ends, running backs, and quarterbacks. For years the Cowboys have been known for having talent in these skill positions. This all begins with the polarizing quarterback, Tony Romo.
Since 2006, Tony Romo has been the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Fans often have split opinions when it comes to Romo. You either love him or hate him. There are moments where Romo plays absolute brilliantly, and other moments where he plays horrid. For the most part, Romo is usually a very good quarterback.
When I think about Tony Romo’s game, the first thing I think about is his scrambling ability. His ability to extend the play by using his leg is what makes Romo irreplaceable to the Cowboys. Since the Cowboys have a poor offensive line, not many quarterbacks would be able to function. Romo on the other hand, can buy time using his legs and get the ball to his receiver. He also has a very quick release, which gets the ball out of his hand before the defense gets to him. Romo’s accuracy is also impressive; he is very good at getting the ball on target at all three levels. He has never had a season where his completion percentage was lower than 60%, which is a great feat.
Romo’s arm strength is average; he can make most throws, but he struggles a bit on the deep out routes. Sometimes Romo tries to do too much. He’ll occasionally make bad decisions and try to force the balls into risky areas. Finally, I have to talk about his clutch-ness. Romo is often criticized for melting down at the most crucial moments. Last year he’s shown he can be clutch, leading the Cowboys to six game winning drives. When week seventeen came around, he could not deliver the win to get the Cowboys to the playoff. Romo has the ability to be an elite quarterback, but what holds him back are the mental factors. If Romo can win important games and make less bad decisions, he can easily be an elite quarterback.
Let’s remember a bright spot in 2012, Dez Bryant. I really love what I saw from Dez in 2012. When I compare his 2012 season and 2011, you can really tell that Dez improved on his route running. Prior to his 2012 season, Dez would use his athleticism and hands to defeat his opponent. In 2012, Dez could run a number of routes that got separation between him and the defender. He really improved on his fly route and has a devastating slant. At 6-2, 220lbs, Dez has good size for a receiver, and can take advantage of smaller cornerbacks. He also uses his size to fight for as many yards as he can, it often takes a couple of defenders to tackle Dez. One of his best features is his hands. Dez has the rare ability to make the craziest catches. When combined with his ability to control his body in the air, Dez is a devastating receiver.
Across from Dez, we have Miles Austin. Injuries have been nagging Austin the past two seasons. There were talks about releasing Austin due to his high cap figure. However, Austin is a great compliment for Dez Bryant. Miles Austin is around the same size of Dez at 6-2, 212lbs. When you look at the two side by side, Austin looks a lot lankier. This is because Austin is more built around his legs. He is surprisingly fast, because he has a long stride with his legs. This makes Austin a very good deep threat. When I watch his routes, I find that he runs a very good post route. When the ball is high in the air, Austin has the leaping ability and strength to fight the ball away from defenders. His hands are a bit below average though, as he’ll drop some catchable balls once in a while. Austin is a solid number two receiver, and could be a number one receiver on some teams.
Next we’ll look at our most reliable target, Jason Witten. Witten has been the most consistent player for the Cowboys since 2004. At 6-6, 261lbs, Witten is a large tight end. He’s not very athletic, but don’t let that deceive you. Witten is one of the quickest players in the NFL. When you watch him run his routes, his cuts will give him lots of separation between him and defender. His greatest strength is his hands. He catches the ball away from his body, and barely ever drops the ball. Witten is Romo’s go to target because he’s so good at getting separation and making clutch catches. Unfortunately, we don’t use Witten in the redzone, which leads to low touchdown numbers for him.
Finally, we’ll look at is Demarco Murray. Like Austin, Murray has had problems with injuries. There’s nothing that stands out about Murray, but there isn’t really anything he does wrong either. He’s a physical runner, which worries me a bit because that can lead to more injuries. He doesn’t have the size to break lots of tackles, but he can still punish some defender. He’s also fairly quick and makes some good cuts. Murray also is a reliable receiving option, and can be a nice checkdown option. I don’t think Murray will be an elite running back, but in this offense he can be a force to be reckoned with.
Without a doubt in my mind, the skill position will be a strong part of the Cowboys in 2013. We have a top ten quarterback, one of the best receiver duos in the league, an elite tight end, and a good running back. With these weapons, defenses will need to watch out for all these options. In addition, there is also Dwayne Harris, Joseph Randle, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna, Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams, who are young players with tons of potential.
Stay tuned next week, when we’ll take a look at the defensive backs.