5 Wonders: Tony Romo's yards per attempt

October, 23, 2012
10/23/12
10:00
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IRVING, Texas -- It’s Giants week, so let’s start Five Wonders with a quick one: Will the Cowboys ever beat New York at Cowboys Stadium?

They are a Josh Hamilton 0-for-3 so far.

OK, consider that a bonus, but now on to the rest of the Wonders:

** I wonder if the unsettling play on the offensive line is affecting Tony Romo’s ability to get the ball down the field. Romo is averaging 7.5 yards per attempt, which would be a career-low if he lasts a full season. He was at 7.5 yards per attempt in 2010 but played in only six games because of a broken collarbone. In the last two games, Romo’s average per attempt has been even lower. He averaged 7.1 yards per attempt vs. Chicago, 7.3 yards vs. Baltimore and 6.7 yards vs. Carolina. When you don’t trust the blocking in front of you, then you look for the shorter, safer throws. On Sunday, Romo appeared to miss Jason Witten down the field for an easy touchdown on the drive that ended with a go-ahead Dan Bailey field goal. Romo looked to a wide receiver on an out route before holding the ball and then scrambling 10 yards. He was under a little pressure, but it’s a throw we’ve seen Romo make a lot.

** I feel badly for safety Matt Johnson. He has suffered three hamstring injuries since June that have kept him out of the season so far. Just as he was about to make his season debut at Carolina, he suffered his second strain to his left hamstring. With the way the Cowboys have kept him around despite the injury, they clearly believe he could have helped. Jason Garrett does not gush much, but when asked about Johnson he continually mentioned the safety’s ability to show up in practice. Now I more than wonder if the Cowboys will put Johnson on injured reserve with the ability to be recalled later in the season once he gets healthy. To me, that would be pushing it and the Cowboys would be more wise to end Johnson’s year now and consider this a redshirt season. Making the jump from Eastern Washington to the NFL is big already. Now to do it without the benefit of an offseason, most of training camp and a handful of snaps in one preseason game it would seem near impossible make an effective jump.

** The Cowboys hoped they could have a center competition between Phil Costa, Kevin Kowalski and Bill Nagy in the offseason, but it never materialized. Kowalski had a bad case of tendinitis that required surgery eventually and has kept him on the physically unable to perform list. Nagy was hurt in training camp and released. Costa suffered a back injury but was never really pushed for the job. Now that Costa has suffered a partially dislocated ankle and will miss a good chunk of the season, I wonder if the Cowboys attempt to speed up Kowalski’s timetable. He could have been activated off PUP last week but the plan was to use the full three-week window before making a decision on calling him, which would begin a second three-week window before he could play. It’s clear the Cowboys do not want to use David Arkin at center, so looking to get Kowalski back sooner might be to their advantage. Either that or go look for another center currently on the street.

** I wonder what happened to Mike Jenkins’ playing time. He had just one snap against Carolina. He hurt his shoulder at Baltimore, but after the game Jenkins said he was healthy and good to go. His only snap came in the dime package in the first quarter. When the Cowboys did use that personnel group later, they went with safety Eric Frampton. I know Morris Claiborne had his first career pick Sunday and had a key fourth-down breakup (or interference depending on your perspective) but the rookie is going through growing pains. If Jenkins says he is healthy, then he should be playing more than one snap. With the Giants visiting Sunday and the multiple receiver looks they give, Jenkins should be a key player.

** I wonder if the Cowboys look at tying up backup nose tackle Josh Brent to an extension. Nothing huge, mind you, but something in the Sean Lissemore range of three years, $6 million. That seems to be the going rate the Cowboys want to pay their defensive linemen. In 2011, Jason Hatcher got that deal with $2.5 million guaranteed. Lissemore got $3.1 million guaranteed earlier this season. A seventh-round compensatory pick in 2010, Brent has developed nicely. What’s funny is that he was not a lock to make the roster after just a so-so offseason and early part of training camp. He wasn’t in good enough shape, but as Garrett pointed out, he worked hard on his body and the results have been obvious. He might have been the Cowboys’ best defensive linemen Sunday and he did a credible job filling in for Jay Ratliff, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason after missing the offseason and most of training camp with plantar fasciitis. Brent is signed through 2013, but so was Lissemore.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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