Building A Champion; Part 1 of 3 - Offense


This series is about what the Cowboys did well in 2013 and what can we build upon for 2014.
I won't just say we are horrible. I'm going to list strengths weakness and what could be a strength or weakness in upcoming season.

Bright spots

Offensive line play.

A lot of people called me crazy when I said that Travis Fredrick would make this line solid. Most pointed to the fact that our guard play needed an improvement. My thought is that you don't necessarily need a pro bowler at every offensive line position.  Which I was correct.  What we needed was a left tackle (T. Smith) a solid center and 3 other players that could be average. The reason is this. The center controls and calls out everything to the rest of the line. If we have a smart center a nice LT. Good play at right tackle and 2 average guards. We can have a good line. This is what happened this year. Doug Free has to keep his play on this level in order for our line to be solid.
Red zone effectiveness. The Cowboys were 68.6 percent in the red zone. Making them 3rd in the NFL behind Denver and Cincinnati.

Averaging 27 points per game.

This team ranks 5th in the NFL in points per game. The team was also ranked 3rd in touchdowns (33). These are two categories the team improved on in each of Ginger Jay's years at the helm.

A complement to Demarco Murray in the form of Lance Dunbar. 

Dunbar had good success in the Oakland game before going down to injury. Even in the preseason Dunbar showed he was faster and more explosive than Murray.  We need to hope this is a sign of things to come from him and not flash in the pan as was Tashard Choice in the Pittsburgh game a few years back.

Romo making better decisions. 

No he's not perfect and what we hate about Romo is the same thing that makes us root for him.  See the Washington game. If Garrett has done one thing well, that is to manage Romo. No it didn't show in the Green Bay game but Romo has thrown less interceptions every year in the Garrett era. With the exception of 2012. Blame the Chicago and final Washington games for that.
Using more spread offense. This formation works with passing (obviously) and running. At training camp we were all sold the notion that this team would be using 2 tight end sets (12 personnel) as New England does. During the season we backed away from this idea and went more spread offense. The spread worked well and it was a surprise that we had more success rushing out of the 12 personnel.

Question marks

A capable back up for Miles Austin. 

As with Dunbar we can wonder is Terrance Williams the answer or is this a mirage?  I say no as for this being a mirage.  Early in the season you could see Romo trying to get Williams the ball. This cost Romo in the first game of the season at New York with an interception. Terrance broke out after that game. Williams had a stretch where he had a touchdown per game in 4 straight games.  Breaking Dez Bryant' s record for a rookie. Williams is explosive as well having 12 catches of 20+ yards and 3 for 40+yards. Bryant is only ahead of Williams by 2 catches (for 20+ yards) and 1 catch in front with (40+ yards). With numbers like these Williams is more than capable to be the replacement for Miles Austin.

Finding a suitable back up for Jason Witten.

As with Demarcus Ware (whom we will talk about more in part 3) Witten won't last forever, Witten isn't slowing down but this team knows that Jason won't be there forever. Either Hanna or Escobar need to take the torch. I am partial to Gavin Escobar. Escobar is one of the 3 best tight ends in the 2013 draft. The big knock on Escobar was that he can't block. Escobar had 2 touchdowns 9 receptions and 134 yards. This surpassed Hanna with 13 receptions under 100 yards and 0 touchdowns. Escobar can learn how to block from the future Hall of Fame player Witten. His catching ability can't be taught and has far superior to hands to Hanna in only 1 season.

Things to build on before they get worst.

Dez Bryant fumbling.

This is not normally something a wide receive has troubles with. Dez suffers from trying to hard on a lot of plays. Dez always wants to get that extra inch this helps his yards after catch numbers. Which leads to the fumbles. Bryant is ranked 14th in the league with 571 yards after the catch. Dez has only lost 1 fumble (2013) but he had 3 fumbles this season. Dez has got to be more careful with the rock.

P.O.T.S. - Points off turnovers. Or should I say T.O.T. Touchdowns off turnovers.
The Cowboys had a +8 turnover differential, ranking them 6th in the league and ranked 10th in the league at total turnovers. Most of the conversions if any the Cowboys made off of these turnovers are field goals not touchdowns. With that Dallas left over 19 points on the field. With 5 of the Cowboys losses being 3 points or less that could have turned a 8-8 season into a 13-3 season.

Murray finishing runs.

I think what has been on our minds the entire season was when Terrell Davis formal of the Denver Broncos called out DeMarco Murray on NFLN. Saying the Murray runs into darkness. Now I don't agree with that statement but I do feel that Murray leaves yardage on the field. In games against Washington, New York, Green Bay and Minnesota Murray had big runs that should have been touchdowns. This is something that Garrett also agrees with. Murray has got to take those 15-20 yard runs and turn them into touchdowns. Murray can't play the St. Louis Rams every week but he needs to act like he is.

Beating New Orleans. 

Unfortunately we have to play then again. We haven't beaten them since 2009. A feat we have only done once since 1994. The Saints don't seem to be leaving Dallas' schedule.  Even tho you normally draw each non divisional team every four years in the way we are seeded we play the Saints on average every other year.

We will continue part 2 of 3 of this series with taking a look at the Cowboys special teams.
Building A Champion; Part 1 of 3 - Offense Building A Champion; Part 1 of 3 - Offense Reviewed by Mr. DCStands4 on 3:01:00 PM Rating: 5

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