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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Random Thoughts: A long day for the line

By Calvin Watkins

IRVING, Texas -- After our review of the Cowboys 23-20 overtime victory against Cleveland we present our weekly Random Thoughts.

Enjoy.

1. The offensive line had many problems on Sunday at Cowboys Stadium and it started on the first play when left tackle Tyron Smith didn't block anyone on a Felix Jones running play. It's easy to get on coach Jason Garrett for not running enough -- take the overtime period, when he attempts nine straight throws before running the ball with Lance Dunbar. If the line doesn't produce running lanes, stay away from it. After Jones hurt his knee early in the game, it appeared Dunbar and Phillip Tanner didn't have enough room to make plays.

2. One of the biggest problems with Tony Romo's fumble is that it came in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys have turned the ball over nine times in the fourth quarter this season -- more than any other quarter. If the Cowboys are to going to become a legit playoff contender, protecting the football late in the game is vital.

3. A few weeks ago, I thought about moving Dunbar into the starting lineup because of Jones' health. It seems as if Jones can't stay healthy with extended minutes on offense. The Cowboys drafted Jones as a change-of-pace back, and that's what he is. He's not a 18- to 20-carry back. He's a backup. If that's the case, and I believe it is, then give Dunbar or Tanner the starting gig until DeMarco Murray returns. It's not like the Cowboys are getting big production from Jones when he plays. And when he does play, he gets nicked up. This time, he tweaked a knee early in the game. That forced Garrett to pass more. Yeah, the Cowboys trailed 13-0 early, but I begin to wonder if the head coach has lost faith in the running game.

4. Dez Bryant leads the Cowboys with 735 receiving yards and is tied for the team lead with four touchdowns. The one stat Bryant should be proud of is first downs earned. Bryant has been involved in 32 first-down plays, third on the team. But of those first downs, nine have come on either third or fourth down. Bryant is becoming a valuable member of the receiving corps for quarterback Tony Romo.

5. When you don't get sacks, you have to examine what type of pressure you're getting on the quarterback. The Cowboys rushed rookie Brandon Weeden with four or more defenders once in the first half and used three defenders for the bulk of third-down plays. The Cowboys needed to get pressure on Weeden. On the season, the Cowboys have 20 sacks -- six fewer than last year after 10 games. While it's nice to get pressure on the quarterback, bringing him down to set up a long down-and-distance on the next play or get the offense off the field is equally important.