clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The 2008 Mr. Indispensible for the Dallas Cowboys

New, comments

Mickey Spagnola asks the question many of us here have been pondering -- who can the 'Boys NOT afford to lose?

The DMN Blog said DeMarcus Ware. I said Tony Romo.

Spags goes with T.O. Also known as Eldorado and (Grizz's favorite) the Pod person.

In year's past he chose Flo, Greg and T-New. But this year it's No. 81. And he goes into detail why he made this decision.

Key quote:

A strong, strong case can be made for Witten, yet my only hesitancy is this: While tight ends in the NFL are important these days, offenses generally can adapt to the lack of a Pro Bowl one. Just find a guy who can block decently enough, and an offense should be able to make do. Tight end, while valuable, should not become crippling without one of the league's best. Go ask the Giants.

So to me, and if you are following along at home on this, you probably sense where I'm going, and there will be a few of you accusing me of playing both ends against the middle. But hear me out: The 2008 Mr. Indispensible for the Dallas Cowboys is ....

Terrell Owens.

Not so shocking, is it?

Owens is the most important player at the most important position not named quarterback that must be considered the thinnest with or without veteran Terry Glenn, and at this point, while financial logic says the season will include him, health willing, you just never know.

This you can't argue, and I don't point to his 81 catches this past season for a team-leading 1,335 yards and a franchise single-season record 15 touchdown grabs. We were unfortunately afforded visual evidence what life on the Cowboys is like without Owens when he suffered the high ankle sprain late in the second quarter of Game 15 against Carolina. 

To that point, in 14½ games, the Cowboys were averaging 30.8 points a game. In the final 2½ games, including the playoff loss to the Giants Owens played at far less than even 90 percent, the Cowboys averaged 10.4 points a game, with 12 of those produced by mere field goals. 

Yeah, keeping Owens healthy and on the field would seem vitally important to me. 

It's a great read.

Hat tip and shout out to Bigrigga31 for his Fanpost.

Star_medium

This discussion of Mr. Indispensible leads me to another discussion -- which player can we afford to lose?

Last year, I would've said we couldn't lose Fergie and what he brought to our defense. But turns out we really didn't need him all that much, especially with the way Jay Ratliff played. Same goes for Terry Glenn. Who knew Patrick Crayton would step in so admirably? And talk smack the entire time while doing it!

I would eliminate marginal players or rookies in this discussion. No one expects Mike Jenkins to become an indispensible player. It would be nice but it's not expected. I would also narrow the discussion to players who are expected to play a major role in our team's success this year.

I'd nominate Patrick Crayton. Romo has proven that he can create a chemistry with darn near any receiver. T.O. is our big-run threat and Witten, in my opinion, is our best receiver. If we lost Crayton for significant time, I'm fairly certain Sam Hurd and Miles Austin could fill in admirably. They have time in the system and more physical gifts than Crayton. Not to mention this is a moot point if Terry Glenn signs the waiver and comes back healthy. I'd also nominate Anthony Henry. He's a solid citizen, a playmaker and a good team guy but this guy may lose his job to Adam Jones. His loss would put us in a bind but I'm guessing our draft picks -- Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick -- could pick up the slack.

Ultimately though I'm going with ... Marion Barber.

Now, I admit part of the reason I'm doing this is to be controversial. But there's merit to the argument. If we lose Barber for a significant amount of time, what do we lose out on? A punishing runner, Pro Bowler and TD-making machine. This is true. But I believe we have the tools to balance this loss. Now, Felix Jones steps into the starting lineup and Choice begins to spell him. No one's expecting them to duplicate Barber's success, but not a bad option.

I also believe Barber's absence would put more pressure on Romo to create more TD-oppoturnities, something he's quite capable of. He threw 36 TDs last year. You think he could challenge Peyton Manning's record with Barber out? I bet he could. I would also think Barber's absence would open up the playbook for Jason Garret, something he's pinning to do anyway.

I wrap this up by calling on the football gods of irony not to strike me down due to this statement. I do not under any circumstances want MB3 to miss any significant time this year. At all.

But I think if he did, barring any other major injuries to Witten or T.O., we'd be alright. Romo would just assume more responsiblity. Our offense would change from a pass-heavy/grind-you-to-death team to a pass-heavy/bomb-you-to-death team. We'd turn into the Colts circa 2005-2006 in my opinion. Not a bad option. And of course, there's the distinct possibility that our running game would continue to be productive with Jones and Choice.

This is not a slight towards Barber's importance to our team. It's just a theory on our response to losing him for a period of time. T.O., Witten an Crayton all want the ball more. They'd all be chomping at the bit to increase their production.

So, there you have it. Spags thinks T.O. is Mr. Indispensable. And I think MB3 is Mr... Dispensable? No not at all. That doesn't sound even sound right. Let's just say he's the biggest part of our team who's absence can be compensated for. We can't duplicate Ware's pass rush. We can't duplicate Newman's one-on-one skills. But Romo can duplicate Barber's TD productivity, in my opinion. No one can duplicate Barber's strength and power, especially in the fourth quarter, but I believe Romo and our other weapons can offset that through a more aggressive passing game. 

Just a theory.

Star_medium 

Brad Sham, I think, should of got consideration to replace Brian Gumbel at the NFL Network since Bryant Gumbel is being replaced by the Giants play-by-play man Bob Papa. Sham is the best. Like the best bartenders he gives it to you straight. The only reason I don't listen to him more is because I love watching my 'Boys too much.  

But sometimes Sham can give it TOO straight. One time, as Ray Buck points out in his latest Old Boys Club article, this lead to a brief replacement. In other words, he got fired by the king of firing people: Jerry Jones.

The venerable "Voice of the Cowboys" is now entering his 30th season (third-longest tenure among play-by-play announcers with the same NFL team). That’s one year longer than either Landry or Schramm.

And like those two fabled franchise architects, Sham has been fired once by Jerry Jones.

"What I did was stupid of me," Sham recalled.

He dragged Jones’ name into a spitting match between the Cowboys radio booth and then-coach Barry Switzer, on the air, in the next-to-last pre-season game of 1994.

"Jerry didn’t like it, and I don’t blame him," Sham said.

The Cowboys, at the time, were the two-time defending Super Bowl champs. Jimmy Johnson had been replaced by Switzer.

Sham, then in his 19th season with the Cowboys, was immediately yanked as TV host of The Jerry Jones Show, although he continued to work the booth alongside Dale Hansen for the rest of the ’94 season.

Switzer wanted them both fired.

Sham saw this as an awkward situation (Switzer refused to be interviewed by Sham) which could be remedied by defecting to Arlington to broadcast Rangers games, which he did (’95-97).

Sham returned to the Cowboys only after Switzer was fired. In his second tour of duty (’98-present), Sham has never missed a beat.

Today, Jerry Jones says, "Brad has unique insight into the team. I trust his judgment."

Glad Jerry brought him back. This also explains why Hansen is still a wee bit bitter.

Star_medium 

Witten is the No. 1 tight-end in the league, according to FOXSports.com.

Jason Witten, Dallas: Utilizing a rare combination of great size (6-5, 265 pounds), speed, athleticism and hands, Witten emerged as fantasy's top tight end by catching career highs of 96 passes for 1,145 yards and seven touchdowns. His reception and yards were the second-best marks among tight ends. Impressively, he's shown excellent durability by playing in all 16 games for the fourth straight season. He's clearly Tony Romo's No. 1 target in one of the league's top passing attacks and serves as a viable scoring threat as well. At only age 26, his best fantasy seasons are still ahead of him.

And? We've been saying that for years over at BTB buddy!

Star_medium

NFL.com takes a look at the questions surrounding the 'Boys once Training Camp starts. It hits all the highlights: Terry Glenn's status, the playoff loss (in this case lowlights), Adam Jones, Roy Williams and Felix Jones. 

Take a peek.

Can the team stay focused amid all the distractions?
There are typically more eyeballs on "America's Team" than probably any other squad in the NFL, but this year the attention figures to reach new heights. The club is considered a favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl and the acquisitions of Adam Jones and veteran LB Zach Thomas have put an even brighter spotlight on the Cowboys. Add to that mix the presence of HBO's Hard Knocks which will document Dallas' camp for the second time and there will be no shortage of distractions. Whether the players can zero in on preparing for the season despite the incessant media coverage remains to be seen.

Key position battle

Anthony Henry vs. Adam Jones vs. Mike Jenkins: Henry had one of his best seasons as a pro last season, grabbing a career-high six interceptions, scoring a touchdown and finishing with 13 passes defensed in only 10 starts. Despite those numbers, the Cowboys still felt the need to bring in Jones and the rookie first-round pick Jenkins. With one of the game's best corners on the other side in Terence Newman, Henry knows the newcomers will battling him for a starting spot. He told the Star-Telegram that he would be open to a move to safety if the team decided it wanted to start Jones or Jenkins. This team is well established at almost every position and the starting corner spot opposite Newman may be the only one up for grabs in training camp. With teams likely to avoid throwing at Newman, whichever player wins the job will likely be put to the test early and often next season.