In this series, we look at the top 5 questions that are up in the air about the Cowboys offseason. Previously, at #5, we wondered how the Cowboys would navigate free agency and the lack of clarity due to the collective bargaining mess. Then we looked at Tony Romo's return from injury and the position coaches. We followed that up with the progression of young players into stars. Now, we discuss the pecking order of the offensive weaponry.
1 - Who will be the primary, dynamic offensive threat in 2011?
In 2007, Terrell Owens led the Cowboys with 1,355 yards and 15 TDs, on 81 catches and 144 targets. The Cowboys finished that season 13-3. In 2008, TO again led the team, but this time with more pedestrian numbers of 1,052 yards and 10 TDs on 69 catches. His targets however were very close at 140. The Cowboys finished that season 9-7 and missed the playoffs. 2009 saw Miles Austin's arrival. Although he didn't get significant burn until Week 5, he led the Cowboys with 1,320 yards and 11 TDs on 81 catches in only 125 targets. Cowboys finish 11-5 and make the playoffs again.
I'm working on a statistical analysis for this and while I'm not projecting causality in the relationship, there definitely seems to be one between Cowboy successful seasons and a having a dynamic threat. The main point is, that guy cannot be Jason Witten. Witten can be your best player as he was in 2010, but he can't be your most prolific. So who will that guy be in 2011? Austin? Felix Jones? Dez Bryant?
I'm sure a lot of fans would pick Dez Bryant, because of the freakish athleticism he possesses, the quality of our new wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson and a (hopefully) full training camp. A lot of fans would pick Miles Austin because of his uncanny Jedi-like brain fusion with Tony Romo on the field; the two players are simply in sync. In 17 regular season starts with Romo at the helm, Austin totaled 1,725 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. However, my pick is Felix Jones.
I think we can expect improved line play with the addition of new strength coach Mike Woicik and replacing Marc Colombo with someone still breathing. I think we will actually give Felix the starting nod and majority of carries from early in the season, as was reported for 2010. We've all seen the stats that show that per touch, Felix is on par with all of the great young runners the league has at the moment. I'm going out on a limb, but I think that at the end of the 2011 season, Felix will be mentioned nationally in the same breath as Jamaal Charles, Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson.
That's right, I said it.