Despite another decent team showing, the Cowboys’ offense has not performed up to expectations of late. In a game where many projected a shootout, Dallas scored only 17 points. Fortunately, the defense played one of its best games of the year, surrendering just one field goal.
Week 8 brings another difficult test in the Detroit Lions. In order for the Cowboys to continue their success, the offense will have to improve.
Everyone knows Dallas’ offense is pass heavy. However, running back DeMarco Murray was missed against the Eagles. Rookie Joseph Randle rushed 19 times for 65 yards, while backup Phillip Tanner added two carries for only one yard and a touchdown.
With more of the same production expected on the ground, the Cowboys passing game must excel this week.
Last week I discussed how the Cowboys needed to put more of an emphasis on star receiver Dez Bryant. Besides getting in the end zone, he played great, reeling in eight catches for 110 yards.
This week, another receiver will be the focal point of the offense. Rookie Terrance Williams has been steadily improving all year, and on Sunday his importance is crucial.
There’s no doubt the Lions will be focusing their defense on stopping Tony Romo and the Dallas passing attack. This most likely means a double-team for Bryant, who’s solidified himself as one of the best in the NFL.
Even though Dallas will obviously make it a point to get Bryant the ball as often as possible, other players must step up. So far this season, Williams has gotten better every week and is now a solid No. 2 option.
Cowboys fans were skeptical of the Cowboys’ third-round selection at the start of the year, but have since grown to appreciate Williams’ development. After only five catches in the first three weeks, the receiver has 19 grabs for 320 yards since, including touchdowns in each of the last three games.
Tony Romo averages 13.6 yards per attempt when targeting Terrance Williams. That's best for any player targeted at least 10 times this year.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) October 21, 2013
He’s earned Romo’s trust now and will seemingly only see his production increase as the season continues.
Another reason Williams must continue to be a key component of the offense is the lack of big plays generated by Miles Austin. The veteran has been slowed down by a hamstring issue (stop me if you’ve heard this before) and has basically been a non-factor. Since Week 1, Austin has a dreadful five receptions for 53 yards. That simply won’t get it done.
Williams has taken over as the second receiver and is behind only Bryant and tight end Jason Witten as the top playmaking option. Look for the Cowboys to continue to air it out against Detroit and for Williams to be even more involved. Against the 28th ranked defense against the pass, Williams should catch close to 10 balls and find himself in the end zone once again.
All statistics via Pro-Football-Reference.com unless indicated otherwise.