It will come as little surprise to Dallas Cowboys fans to hear that their team's offense is going to be different this year. The departure of the talented, albeit team-killing, Terrell Owens will bring a new look to a stale Dallas team.
The Dallas offense ran through T.O. for the last three seasons. Yes, his last season in Dallas was filled with controversy and Jason Witten had more catches, but Owens was the reason that every other receiver could be open. Love him, or hate him, Terrell Owens was Dallas's big play threat.
Who will step up and take his place on the field?
The most obvious choice is former University of Texas standout, Roy Williams. He seems to have the strength and speed to be the Cowboys "go to" receiver, but his numbers have steadily dropped off the past couple seasons.
Jason Witten seemed to be Tony Romo's man-crush last season, but a tight end cannot and should not be a team's featured receiver. The TE is the team's safety blanket—an easy first down—not the big play maker.
After Owens and Witten, the receiver with the most yards last season was Patrick Crayton with 550, which was over 400 fewer yards than Witten had, and 500 fewer than Owens. He is a solid number two receiver, but he is not the deep play threat the Cowboys need.
After all this, you would hope that Dallas would draft a possible replacement in the draft, right?
Nope, Dallas didn't even have a pick on the first day and the only WR they got was Oklahoma wide-out, Manuel Johnson.
Johnson's numbers were solid at OU, but he was severely limited by an arm injury last season. Unfortunately for Dallas, Johnson probably doesn't have the size or speed to be their home run threat.
What does that mean for a Dallas team hoping to return to the playoffs?
For the first time since he stepped on the field, Tony Romo must step out of the spotlight.
Romo was crowned "The Next Troy Aikman" by many Cowboy fans, but without a big play threat Romo needs to become a better decision-maker.
Owens had the incredible ability to catch a ball in triple coverage, and that talent saved Romo numerous times. As much as many fans hate the phrase, Romo must learn to "manage the game." He needs to keep up his rhythm with Jason Witten for emergency situations, but the Dallas offense will focus on its running game.
The Cowboy running backs are headlined by the bruising Marion Barber and the lightning-fast Felix Jones.
Jones was averaging 8.9 yard per carry before he went down with an injury last season, and his presence will be much appreciated next season. After Jones went down, Tashard Choice stepped up to the backup role and averaged a more than respectable 5.1 yard per carry.
Marion Barber will continue to be the featured back of the Cowboy offense. He may not get many yards per carry, but he will fight for every yard he gets. The power that he brings to this team helps wear down opposing defenses so that Jones and Choice can break free.
If the Cowboys can find a deep threat to go with their solid running backs, expect to see Dallas playing deep into January.
*Stats from CBSsports.com and DallasCowboys.com