Monday, November 18, 2013
Five for the Bye
By Calvin Watkins
With the Dallas Cowboys' bye week over, we look at five people who need to produce well after the bye week.
Five for the Bye
1. Miles Austin. The starting wide receiver has missed five games to hamstring injuries and been hampered in three more games because of it. The Cowboys need Austin's abilities to make defenders miss in the short passing game and to take away attention from Dez Bryant. Austin started the season well, 10 catches in the season-opener, but he's got just five more catches since then. The Cowboys have been more than patient with Austin, now it's time for him to return and be productive.
2. Bruce Carter. He's been benched, ripped and praised. With Sean Lee and Justin Durant out for at least three weeks, the Cowboys need their weakside linebacker to make plays and maintain a level of consistency. Injuries to the linebacker position have created depth issues, so there's nobody behind Carter that's good enough to replace him if he struggles. Coach Jason Garrett said Carter has played well the past two weeks -- that needs to continue in the final six games of the season.
3. Tony Romo. Why isn't the quarterback at the top of the list? Romo has played well this season, but his overall numbers could be better. In the past two games, his receivers have dropped 10 passes. Romo is a talented quarterback who has minimized his mistakes from previous years but at times he needs to challenge defenses more with passes in tight spaces, especially to Bryant, who needs the ball. It's hard to duplicate his 506-yard game from Oct. 6 against Denver, but he needs to find some efficiency in the passing attack.
4. Monte Kiffin. This could be the 73-year old defensive coordinator's last shot to make amends for a terrible season. Kiffin has scrapped the Tampa 2 scheme at times and is playing more man-to-man, regardless of what Jerry Jones says or wants. Kiffin's defense has personnel issues from a health and skill-set standpoint. It's not totally his fault, but he needs to make better adjustments, if not the struggles will continue.
5. Morris Claiborne. He lost his starting job because of a bad shoulder, then once it healed to a degree so he could function, he failed to regain the job, thanks to the fine work by Orlando Scandrick. Claiborne is returning from a hamstring injury, which cost him the past two games. The Cowboys need him to become a playmaker in the secondary in the final six games.