5 Wonders: Return of Holland, FB, Ryan's D

October, 25, 2011
10/25/11
10:54
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- It’s a Tuesday so we’re back to wondering about five things as the Cowboys get ready for a huge NFC East game at Philadelphia on Sunday:

** I wonder if the Cowboys wonder if they made a mistake in cutting Montrae Holland before the season opener. Back and hamstring injuries kept Holland on the sideline for all but one preseason game and in his action against Miami owner and general manager Jerry Jones seemed pleased. The Cowboys had given him a $500,000 roster bonus so it was a tad surprising they let him go. The Cowboys wanted a bigger interior lineman so they added Derrick Dockery. And by bigger I don’t necessarily mean beefier. I mean taller. Holland is listed at 6-2. Dockery is 6-6. Holland deserves the credit for how he handled the loss of a job. He went to LeCharles Bentley’s offensive lineman camp outside Cleveland and got in decent shape. He did not come out of the St. Louis game until the final series.

** I wonder what the Cowboys would have to do if they had to prepare to play against a Rob Ryan defense this week. Not long after he agreed to become the Cowboys defensive coordinator Philadelphia made a call to Ryan to see if he would be interested in becoming its coordinator. His father, Buddy, talked about it in a Sports Illustrated article, but Rob stuck to his word and remained with the Cowboys. So that means the Cowboys were able to keep two people away from the Eagles in the offseason. Philadelphia came after left tackle Doug Free hard and were prepared to move him to right tackle to protect Michael Vick’s blindside. Free has had some good games against the Eagles in the past and Andy Reid noticed. The only one that got away was cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who took Philly’s money despite the best efforts of Jones and Ryan.

** I wonder if the Cowboys really did receive two calls from teams on running back Tashard Choice, as Jerry Jones asserted. I wonder if it was a ploy by the owner to generate some interest in Choice before last week’s trade deadline. Felix Jones’ injury should not have swayed the team’s opinion on whether to deal Choice. The high ankle sprain is not something that will keep Jones out for a long time and as DeMarco Murray and Phillip Tanner showed Sunday the Cowboys are pretty good at tailback. Would it have been a risk to go with two rookies and then call in a running back for emergency duty? Sure, but they were willing to take big chances along the offensive line this year.

** Can a fullback make that much of a difference in a running game? To those who love Daryl Johnston, Ron Springs and Walt Garrison, sure. Tony Fiammetta has started two games and they have been the Cowboys' best running games of the year. (Updated from earlier. Fiammetta has been active for three games.) Against Washington the Cowboys ran for 125 yards on 26 carries with a 40-yarder from Felix Jones. On Sunday against St. Louis, they ran for 294 yards on 34 carries, led by DeMarco Murray’s franchise record 253 yards. If that’s not a case for the fullback, I don’t know what is.

** I don’t wonder if there has been a philosophical switch by Jason Garrett. Tony Romo threw only 24 passes in the win Sunday against St. Louis. It was the fewest in a game Romo started and finished since the 2007 opener (or the first time Garrett and Romo worked together) against the New York Giants. It was the fourth time he completed 14 passes in game he has started and finished and the second time he has won. The 166 yards was the second-lowest total of his career in a win. He had 158 yards vs. Washington on Nov. 22, 2009 in a 7-6 decision. You can’t count on nearly 300 rushing yards every week or even 150 yards every week to win games. This is a passing league and Sunday was an anomaly.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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