After the Cowboys' difficult 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday we offer some thoughts in our weekly Beat Writers Report.
In the midst of Dez Bryant's antics on the sideline, which we've now learned was more about strategy, there was somebody missing in all of this: Offensive coordinator/playcaller Bill Callahan. On the sidelines we see Bryant talking to receivers coach Derek Dooley, quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, quarterback Tony Romo and of course, coach Jason Garrett. Callahan is up in the press box and his communication is limited to the coaches and brief discussions with the players during games. It's just easier that way. But why didn't Bryant pick up one of the phones behind the bench and call Callahan to ask what he saw on the field? "Because this is us, this is our team," Bryant said. "They do their jobs by giving us the play and us going out there and executing it."
The Cowboys want to be cautious with running back DeMarco Murray. We understand that. His durability issues will continue as a discussion until he plays a full 16-game season. But you have to wonder going forward if he's the man for the job in 2014. Yes, it's hard to think about that now, yet rookie Joseph Randle had two games to make a case for a starting role. Randle displayed some flashes but didn't do enough to take over the job. He's not a reliable back on pass protection yet as evident with the team trusting Phillip Tanner on third down plays against the Detroit Lions. Murray is a talented player who must overcome his health issues in the future. If not, then the Cowboys might hand the job to Randle.
Speaking of injuries, wide receiver Miles Austin missed the Lions game with his balky hamstring. This injury has hampered Austin his entire career and more so the past two seasons. He played through it last year but you could tell after the St. Louis game, he's been a decoy on the field and inactive off it. Austin should sit until after the bye week, Nov. 17, and if he's 100 percent, or near that, he would make for a nice addition to an offense that's struggling right now.
Romo targeted 10 passes toward rookie receiver Terrance Williams against the Lions but there were only two completions. One of the completions was a 60-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass. Romo seemed off with several of his throws on Sunday and you can't blame the wind, which was the case in the previous game at Philadelphia. Of Romo's 30 pass attempts he threw away probably three, including a sideline throw to slot receiver Cole Beasley. We assume Romo is healthy but he might be going through a slump. After his wonderful 506-yard performance against Denver on Oct. 6, Romo threw for just 170 yards on 30 pass attempts in the victory over Washington and he compiled a season-low 69.2 quarterback rating while throwing for 317 yards in the win over the Eagles.
The loss of guard Brian Waters could move center Phil Costa to active duty on game days. He's been inactive for three of the past five weeks. Costa turned into a forgotten man once the Cowboys drafted Travis Frederick in the first round last spring. With Waters out it means Mackenzy Bernadeau moves into the starting lineup at guard. When that happens, Costa is not only the backup center but he moves into a backup guard role as well. With Costa inactive, Bernadeau was not only the backup guard but center, too.