If you're talking about wide receivers for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, there's a good chance you're talking about Dez Bryant. Here at BTB, and all around the Cowboys news world, Bryant has been a big topic of conversation. If he can repeat the numbers from the second-half of last year, then he deserves all the praise he's getting so far. But lining up on the other side of Bryant is a guy who just a few years ago looked to be on his way to the reaching star status. Now that Dez is breaking out, what will Miles Austin's role be for the Cowboys in 2013?
When Miles Austin broke out in 2009, everybody thought the Cowboys had found their new #1 receiver. He followed up with a decent year in 2010, but 2011 was hampered by hamstrings. Last year was actually pretty decent, though he was buried by the blizzard of stats Dez put up in the second-half of the year.
The Cowboys will probably be looking at Dez and Jason Witten as options 1 and 1a in the passing game. They also hope James Hanna or Gavin Escobar can add to the mix. They have to be planning on running the ball more than they did last year when they were near the bottom of the league in attemtps. That's a lot of footballs to go around. Can Austin get his hands on a few?
If Dez becomes the focal point of the offense, then he will also become the focal point of the defense. Safeties will be rolled to his side of the field, the defense will look to bracket him whenever they can. This could open up Miles Austin for some one-on-one coverages. It might open up the top end of the defense for him, where he's showed he can burn teams deep with his speed and athleticism. As long as his hamstrings hold up.
Bryan Broaddus recently wrote a short article on Austin where he thinks Miles will have a big year. I kind of agree but differ in how. Broaddus argues:
Despite all of the potential ways for this offense to move the ball by throwing it to Bryant and Witten, Austin still is a valuable weapon for Tony Romo and the fact that not many folks are talking about him and his role in this offense, that makes him a dangerous player in my eyes. Targets will be the key and if those are up, he will be on pace to reproduce those numbers from 2009.
I'm not sure he can repeat those 2009 numbers. But I don't think he has to for a successful year. I can see the Cowboys using him as a deep threat, a guy who may not get top-receiver targets, but a guy who has a big YPC average and quite a few log touchdowns.
So I open it up to you, BTB. What will Austin's year be like and how do you see the Cowboys using him?