Random thoughts: No Jason Witten worries

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
1:19
PM ET


After three weeks, the Cowboys are 2-1 but don't feel like they're headed in the right direction. Here are our weekly random thoughts on the Cowboys.

1. The Cowboys credited tight end Jason Witten with just one drop Sunday at Tampa Bay because one pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and he couldn't hold on and another pass was too high. You could say an-All Pro such as Witten has to make these catches, but it's hard to make contested catches. A contested catch is when the defender is making a play on the ball or a pass was tipped during flight. In Week 2 at Seattle, Witten was credited by the coaches with three drops. Nobody from the front office to the coaching staff believes Witten is on a decline or worried about the drops. It happens. Miles Austin endured the same problems a few years ago.

2. It's easy to blame the offensive line for the pressures on quarterback Tony Romo, but a closer look says No. 9 needs to get rid of the ball. There were times Sunday where Romo missed some open targets, especially underneath and at times appeared to have 'happy feet' when in the pocket. Romo needs to get rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or he puts himself at risk of getting sacked or hurrying a throw. On Romo's interception, you can't blame the line because they protected him well. The pass intended for Austin was picked off by Aqib Talib, who left Dez Bryant near the sidelines to pick off the ball.

3. DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Anthony Spencer, Sean Lee and Brandon Carr have been the Cowboys' best defensive players. Add inside linebacker Bruce Carter to the list. He's played well in the early stages of the season. He's moving well laterally and pounding ball carriers on runs. On the Buccaneers' lone touchdown, a Josh Freeman pass to tight end Luke Stocker, Carter bumped Stocker at the line of scrimmage. But then Carter ran toward the back of the end zone as did Lee. Either Carter was supposed to cover Stocker or stay with him.

4. We understand the Cowboys are trying to give Felix Jones chances to make plays on special teams. He returned one kick for 18 yards but on the play, he ran into blockers instead of trying to make a move. Jones doesn't have the same burst or good lateral movement he had as a rookie. He runs chunky, like he's carrying something on his back. If he's healthy and we believe that's the case, then maybe his physical decline is starting at such a young age, 25.

5. Does anybody miss center Phil Costa? Nothing against Ryan Cook, but it's one thing to have botched snaps -- something the Cowboys dealt with in training camp -- but false starts, some caused by Cook's inability to deal with the cadence, is an issue that needs to be solved. Having Costa at center is the answer to these problems, however, the team can't rush him back.

Notes: A first quarter false start penalty on Witten should have gone to John Phillips. Lined next to each other, Phillips flinches slightly, causing Witten to move. ... Phillips didn't have one of his better days. There was supposed to be a screen pass directed toward him, and Romo instead threw to DeMarco Murray on the other side. ... It's sad when the Cowboys' players have to ask the crowd, of at least 80,000 to get loud when they're on defense. After watching the Ravens-Patriots game Sunday night, the fans in Baltimore knew what to do without getting prompted too much.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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