offensive line coach Hudson Houck said of the Giants front, and when asked if he thought Austin's presence should help juice a somewhat stagnant Cowboys offense, he went on to say, "I would hope so."
You should, too.
Not even the return of Felix Jones on Thanksgiving Day has noticeably helped. As a team, the Cowboys have averaged just 83 yards rushing over the past three games. Their longest run has been 18 yards, and none of the 75 carries have ended up in the end zone.
In fact, this should scare you the most. Remember in the offseason when I pointed out after the Cowboys rushed for only 10 touchdowns in 2010 that over their 51-year history only nine times have they rushed for no more than 10 touchdowns in a season? And that in those nine seasons, eight times they finished with losing records and once at .500? Remember?
Well, are you ready? The Cowboys after 12 games have rushed for all of four touchdowns. Four, for crying out loud, only Cleveland and Kansas City rushing for fewer (three) in a league averaging 9.2 rushing touchdowns a team. That means the Cowboys are on pace to possibly set the single-season low, which rests at the six scored in 1960 and 1961, the first two seasons in franchise history, and then again in the 6-10 season of 1997.
Worse than that? One of those rushing touchdowns came in the opener against the Jets, and two were scored against the lowly St. Louis Rams, including Murray's 91-yarder. But since Tanner scored the second that game in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys have now gone six straight games, or 24 quarters plus two overtime periods, rushing for all of one touchdown (Murray vs. Buffalo), and at that, just one yard - and none over the past 14 quarters and two overtimes.
Think about it, one in the opener, two against the Rams, and in the other 10 games, just a one-yard rushing touchdown.
So for those who have this foolish notion that Garrett doesn't trust Romo to throw the ball, well, if Romo is not throwing touchdown passes, and he's now thrown 22 and Jon Kitna one, then how the hell do you think the Cowboys are going to score touchdowns? Huh? He has no choice but to trust him.
No wonder Bryant is returning punts and Jones kickoffs. The Cowboys must generate points somehow, and it's not as if the defense is scoring a bushel-basket full of points, Terence Newman's interception return that unit's only scoreboard contribution.
That is why the Cowboys sorely need Austin's presence on the field. Teams, and I'm guessing the Giants, too, will hesitate putting eight in the box with him on one side and Bryant on the other. If they do, then they better have a Deion Sanders at corner to douse Austin's speed in single coverage. Play that single-safety high, and chances are if Austin beats the corner down the sideline, the safety won't be able to rotate over fast enough, just as Earl Thomas could not do on that last play Austin's been on the field.
And if defenses decide to double Austin with the single safety, that then vacates the middle of the field for Bryant or Robinson if the Cowboys are throwing when the defense is gambling on the run.
So here the Cowboys go toward Sunday night, a full contingent of wide receivers now that's Austin's back. A true fullback, now that Fiammetta is back. Two healthy running backs, a healthy offensive line and maybe just a backup tight end short if Martellus Bennett (ribs) can't play, but his potential absence minimized somewhat by Fiammetta's return.
Finally, the gang's nearly all here, and just in time, because if the Cowboys are to take control of the NFC East with a victory over the Giants Sunday night they will need to score points ... a lot of points, certainly more than 13 like last Sunday and certainly closer to 30. They know what's coming, the last four winners in this series scoring at least 31 points, and in seven of the last nine meetings. And only once in the last four meetings has the point differential been more than seven points.
As Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears says, "Sorry I don't have any breaking news, but over the seven years I've been here (playing the Giants) has always been a dogfight."
Yep, not a bad time then to factor Miles into the equation.