do without this 2010 season, and certainly last season would not have gone 11-5 to win their first playoff game since 1996 if he were missing is . . . .
Of course, you sensed that, right? Dost can't protest?
Because I'm telling you, after the disappointing season last year from Roy Williams - if catching seven touchdown passes is indeed disappointing - no way the Cowboys ever would have produced enough offense to go 11-5 or possibly win those two games as Austin did with the game-winning touchdown grab in overtime at Kansas City and the game-winner late in Philadelphia.
Talk about a godsend. What if Roy never hurt his ribs in that Denver game, the impetus for the Cowboys taking the wraps off their fourth-year receiver who to that point had caught 23 passes and four touchdowns in his NFL career. But in those final 12 games, an NFL Pro Bowler emerged, Austin going on to catch another 78 passes and score 10 more touchdowns.
And on top of that, Austin finished with 1,320 receiving yards, the sixth highest single-season total in the Cowboys' 50-year history, with only Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (four times) and Terrell Owens ever totaling more receiving yards in a season, and at that one of Irvin's seasons was just 10 yards more and Owens' season 35.
Hey, indeed how could the Cowboys have done it without Miles?
How could they do it without him this year?
I mean, I do think there is a chance he proves a whole bunch of us wrong this year, but after what we've seen the past 1½ seasons, we would be foolish to assume Roy Williams would just take over this offense if Austin was absent. This time, I've got to see it before I count on it.
Now I also know what you all are thinking. My gosh, the Cowboys drafted Dez Bryant. That they did with the 24th pick in the first round, and from what we've seen on the field in the offseason, a steal. In due time he is going to be a good one. But so good so soon might be a lot to expect from a rookie wide receiver who only played two full college seasons, plus four games his junior year. For some reason, young receivers have a hard time transitioning into the NFL.
Take this past season's 10 leading receivers in the NFL, going from Wes Welker with 123 receptions down to Sidney Rice with 83. Only three guys in that group were able to catch more than 31 passes during their rookie seasons. The trio would be Anquan Boldin with 101, Andre Johnson with 66 and Larry Fitzgerald with 58. I mean, the Giants Steve Smith had eight as a rookie. Reggie Wayne had 27. Roddy White 29. Brandon Marshall 20. And even the Panthers' Steve Smith checks in with just eight rookie catches.
I'm just sayin', Austin, Williams, Bryant, Patrick Crayton, Kevin Ogletree and Sam Hurd would be a dynamic wide receiver group. But extract Austin from those six, and the Cowboys would be entering the unknown, since really, of the remaining five, they only know for certain what Crayton could do in an expanded role. After that, we're talkin' a lot of hope and prayers.
Plus, let's face it, just as was my qualifier last year with Felix Jones, speed in the NFL is irreplaceable, and the Cowboys do not have another wide receiver who can run with Austin, and certainly not combining the speed and power he does. They dearly need his ability to stretch the field. They need his presence at the line of scrimmage to back off defenses. They need his home-run threat from anywhere on the field.
Now that's what they hope to have in Bryant.
But that's what they know they have in Austin.
Giving the Cowboys Indispensable Miles.