Wednesday, August 15, 2012 Updated: August 16, 4:20 PM ET
There's no point in pointing fingers
By Jean-Jacques Taylor ESPNDallas.com
No one is to blame for the lacerated spleen tight end Jason Witten suffered Monday night in the Dallas Cowboys' first preseason game.
Not offensive tackle Doug Free. Not quarterback Tony Romo. And certainly not head coach Jason Garrett. So can we please stop searching for a scapegoat? One doesn't exist.
Jason Witten was injured on the Cowboys' sixth offensive play in the preseason opener.
Witten is the recipient of some awful luck. No more, no less.
By the way, there wasn't a single tweet or Facebook post at the time Witten was hurt that blamed Free, Romo or Garrett after the play or all day Tuesday.
If you didn't blame any of the play's key participants at the time, there's no need to cast aspersions now.
The best you can hope is that after being idle for 7-10 days, doctors will see that Witten's injury is healing properly, and he won't need any surgery.
The best case scenario says Witten will return in 3-4 weeks.
Just so you know, Witten, DeMarcus Ware and Brandon Carr are the most indispensable players on the roster because no one on the team comes close to duplicating their skill sets.
Witten, as tough as they come, has missed only one game in his NFL career, the result of breaking his jaw as a rookie, so you know the 10-year veteran will do everything humanly possible to be on the field for the opener against the New York Giants on Sept 5.
But Witten isn't dealing with a broken bone or some other injury that will only test his pain threshold. This is a serious internal injury. The training staff won't allow Witten to put himself in jeopardy.
In the meantime, maybe owner Jerry Jones can appease the Cowboys' Nation by petitioning the NFL to forfeit the team's last three preseason games because it has an injury-ravaged offensive line and fans don't want to see any more key players hurt.
There's no sympathy in Cincinnati, which lost four starters in its first preseason game.
Trying to assign blame for a random play is a waste of time.
Seriously, you should have read some of the absurdities on my Twitter timeline Wednesday.
Some folks want to blame Free because he missed the block that resulted in heavy pressure from defensive end Lamarr Houston. The pressure screwed up the play's timing and that's how linebacker Rolando McClain positioned himself to deliver a big hit on Witten for a two-yard loss.
This isn't former fullback Chris Gronkowski making a mental mistake and failing to pick up a blitzing inside linebacker that resulted in Romo's broken collarbone in 2010.
This was a poorly executed block, but Romo escaped and Houston had nothing to do with Witten getting hurt.
If you want to criticize Free for his overall lackluster play since signing a four-year, $32 million deal before last season, then please do so. One, however, has nothing to do with the other.
Then there's the faction that wants to blame Romo for throwing the ball to Witten. Romo should've thrown the ball away, they proclaim.
Only in Dallas-Fort Worth can a quarterback make a tremendously athletic play to avoid a sack and complete a pass, yet get criticized.
Romo had less than a split second to make a decision to throw Witten the ball. If he knew the completion was going to result in Witten getting hurt, obviously he would've made a different decision.
Then again, Nostradamus died in 1566, though you can still pick up a copy of his book, Les Propheties, on Amazon for less than $20. Perhaps, there's a mention of Monday's play in the book?
Romo Would Miss Witten
Tony Romo has completed 72.3 percent of his passes to Jason Witten the past three seasons, the fourth highest rate for any QB/TE duo with at least 100 attempts. Since 2009, Romo is 19 of 264 for 2,190 yards with nine TDs throwing to Witten.
Best Comp Pct By QB/TE Duo Since 2009*
Peyton Manning/Dallas Clark
Tom Brady/Rob Gronkowski
Philip Rivers/Antonio Gates
Tony Romo/Jason Witten
*Minimum 100 attempts (28 qualifiers)
And no, you can't blame Garrett for Witten's injury either.
Garrett wanted his starters to play 8-12 plays, and Witten was injured on the sixth play. He left the game immediately, but returned for the offense's third series because he probably figured he was just in pain -- not injured.
We're talking about a dude who once ran nearly 50 yards without a helmet after making a catch against Philadelphia in 2007.
On the next possession, Witten capably blocked a defensive end on first down, was the intended receiver on a second-down incompletion and caught an eight-yard pass on third down.
The NFL is a tough, physical game in which mangled digits and broken bones are accepted parts of the game. You can't place the best players in bubble wrap. Or glue styrofoam peanuts to their bodies.
There's no blame to be assigned. Fans should simply be thankful Witten won't be lost for the season.