Random Thoughts: Lance Dunbar the answer at RB?

November, 6, 2012
11/06/12
4:04
PM ET
After reviewing the Cowboys' 19-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night, we offer up some thoughts on what we've seen and heard.

Here's our weekly Random Thoughts.

1. It looks like DeMarco Murray won't play this week against the Philadelphia Eagles, and if that's the case it means Felix Jones will get the start again. But after watching Jones rumble for 39 yards on nine carries, it should be worth noting Lance Dunbar (North Texas) picked up more carries as the No. 3 back over No. 2 back Phillip Tanner. Dunbar carried eight times for 26 yards and Tanner had just one carry Sunday night. Coach Jason Garrett said Tanner's special teams duties pushed the Cowboys to give more carries to Dunbar. It was a smart move, but maybe Dunbar should start at Philadelphia. It's not like Jones has torn up opposing defenses. Maybe moving Dunbar to the starting role could give the Cowboys a change of pace necessary for a weak running game. Dunbar seems shiftier and quicker than Jones.

2. Dez Bryant is a talented player who needs the football. Tony Romo targeted Bryant four times during Sunday's game, but he should have gotten more throws his way. Bryant looked open numerous times as the Falcons played off coverage. It seems Romo isn't confident enough to give Bryant a chance to make catches while defended. You have to give playmakers chances to produce plays and the Cowboys are not doing it with Bryant, at least they didn't against the Falcons. Bryant is strong enough to make catches with defenders on him and fast enough to make catches downfield.

3. Yes, Morris Claiborne got beat a little bit by the speedy and talented Atlanta receivers, but sometimes we forget he's a rookie. Claiborne is a talented player who can jam with success and has the speed to catch up with receivers if he's behind a step. Claiborne is being challenged by opposing quarterbacks and that can only make him better as a corner. He's not afraid to go after receivers, and despite surgery to his wrist and a sore knee that's bothered him most of the season, he's playing physical.

4. It was only one punt return, but Dwayne Harris showed what can happen on the unit when you catch the ball and follow your blocks. Harris' lone punt return went for 37 yards as he made three defenders miss, spinning past the punter and getting big yards. This is something Bryant didn't do on a consistent basis. Harris has to remain in this role the rest of the season, and at some point the Cowboys should break a return for a big score.

5. Fans and some in the media are not happy with Romo targeting Kevin Ogletree on third down plays. Romo and coach Jason Garrett will tell you that you have to find the open receiver regardless of the down and distance. It's also an indication of how much Romo trusts certain players to make plays. If you remember, the only touchdown of the game for the Cowboys came when Romo scrambled and pointed for Ogletree to move to an open spot in the end zone. Ogletree did so and made the touchdown catch. If Romo didn't have the trust in Ogletree he might have thrown the pass away.

Notes: The Cowboys signed safety Charlie Peprah (Plano East) two weeks ago and he hasn't played. It's not a health issue (Peprah had knee surgery after the 2011 season), as Garrett said it's more about finding space for him on special teams, and right now that hasn't happened. ... It's funny how nobody is talking about how well the punter, Brian Moorman, is doing right now. He had a net average of 44 yards against the Falcons with three punts inside the 20. ... Nothing against safety Barry Church, who was off to a strong 2012 season, but Danny McCray (seven tackles vs. Atlanta) is playing well in his place.
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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