Offensively, the Cowboy’s playbook needs some tweaking, but it's definitely worth keeping. Last season the Cowboys were forced to abort their running game and Jason Garrett never seemed prepared.
With the return of two healthy running backs and an additional threat from Tashard Choice, the Cowboys Coryell-Turner style offense needs to be refined with a new Garrett touch. I have a few options the Cowboys should think about trying, but first we‘ll talk about what worked.
Not to loose complete trust in the Cowboys remaining wide receivers, but I think the tight-ends performance from last season needs more attention. Three of the returning performers at wide-receiver last season; Miles Austin, Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton combined for 1,026 receiving yards and only 8 of the teams 29 touchdowns.
Tight-ends Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett recorded 8 touchdowns as well, but the duo also combined for 1,235 receiving yards for the year. 952 of those yards belong to Witten. Everyone knows Tony Romo is comfortable throwing to his road roomy and good friend Witten, and as my flag football teammates always say, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
The Cowboys have no worries when it comes to their running game, but the absence of Terrell Owens will definitely put Tony Romo and his receivers to the test. One solution; perfecting their two-tight end package.
Many have concerns about Bennett’s ability to focus mentally. Forgetting formations is not a great sign, but he has a few advantages, youth, toughness, athleticism, and great play making abilities. If he can buckle down this season, master his routes and perfect his execution he will be a great compliment to Witten.
If the Cowboys focus on executing their two-tight end package, while also relying on play action plays for quicker, more precise pass completions, the Cowboys will force defenses to play tighter and possibly cheat in the secondary, opening the field so Tony Romo can hit streaking receivers.
The running game is perfection, what more can you ask for.
The Cowboys have three complimentary running backs. However, I recently heard a show discussing the possibility of keeping Marion Barber as a starter and Tashard Choice has the second option, why? Felix Jones is an X-factor and needs to explore the field. His athleticism is better than both Barber and Choice, so why not exploit those talents and use him at slot, as a wide receiver and running back. I definitely say Jones should back up Barber, but the possibility is not far-fetched.
Last season Phillips was not a huge fan of using Jones on special teams to return kicks. He didn’t want to overwork his rookie draft pick or risk injuries. So much for that. Regardless of Jones’ injury six games into the season, he still managed to prove Phillips wrong. In the three games Jones played for the Cowboys, he returned the ball 16 times for a total of 434 yards and one touchdown; the longest for 98 yards. Meaning, don’t doubt Jones, he’s explosive almost anywhere on the field.
What about the wildcat formation?
Many believe the Cowboys should try incorporating the wildcat formation using Patrick Crayton, a former quarterback. The possibility, is not likely. Number one we have a starting quarterback, two he’s good. It would definitely add another dimension to their game because it’s unexpected, but I say only in the playoffs, otherwise it’s a bust.
A formation that would work, a pro set. After establishing the run, why not let Witten go to work in the middle. Witten lacks the speed to outrun defenders, but he loves slashing down the middle. Witten’s size and great hands make this play perfect A nontraditional formation would include, Jones and Choice in the backfield, Witten in the slot and Miles Austin in the flank position because of his speed and agility. This would be a defenders worse nightmare.
Another option for the Cowboys to incorporate after establishing their running game, a spread offense. Jones has great footwork, if the receivers can prove that defenders need to play straight up, Jones can go to work.
The Cowboy’s playbook got away from them last season for not expecting the unexpected. By refocusing around the teams strengths, the Cowboys could become a huge threat. Perfecting their execution and adding a few plays to the playbook this off-season is crucial.
With the absence of Terrell Owens and the uncertainty of Roy Williams, the Cowboys are forced to become more possession oriented rather than explosive. These changes will help the Cowboys create scoring opportunities while running down the possession clock, and possibly forcing opponents to panic if the Cowboys 3-4 defense, ran by Phillips can consistently makes stops.