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Broaddus: 12 Thoughts As The Cowboys Head Into The Bye Weekend

IRVING, Texas – With the Jacksonville game tape finished and no opponent to preview this weekend, I've got 12 thoughts to tide you through this bye weekend.

  • If you asked me which Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman was playing the best right now, there is no question in my mind it is Zack Martin. What has been so impressive about his work is that the normal rookie learning curve has been nonexistent. There are mental and technique areas that he has shown in his development that are well beyond his experience level, and this offense has benefitted from that.
  • I have respect for all of the jobs that these coaches have done this season, but if you just asked me to select one guy that has stood out above the others, Matt Eberflus would be that guy for me. There has not been a position on this roster that has had to shuffle bodies more than what they have to do at linebacker. It started with the loss of Sean Lee the first day of OTA practices and has not let up through this past game with the Jaguars. It has not mattered the combination, because as a group there has been little drop off and Eberflus deserves the credit for that. Each week his guys have stepped up and made plays to win games despite playing out of position the majority of the time.
  • It was about this time last season that we began to see a slip in the play of Nick Hayden at that nose-tackle spot, but I have a feeling that will not be the case this year. Hayden has played through some bumps and bruises, but these coaches have done a much better job of using this rotation to keep their linemen fresh and Hayden might have benefited the most from it. There has been a huge difference in the number snaps that he has had to play between the two seasons, and when you see him play in the fourth quarters of games he looks just as fresh as when he started.
  • How this staff works around the injury to Tyler Patmon will be interesting. The dime package has been outstanding for this defense, and a large part of that is due to how well Patmon has stepped in as the fourth corner and made it work. What has to be a bigger concern is that if something were to take place injury-wise to one of the other corners, that there was confidence that he could also step up and fill that role. My feeling is that we will see Micah Pellerin being called up this time next week before the team leaves for New York on Saturday. I think Pellerin will draw that assignment for Patmon until he returns in four weeks.
  •  I watched that hit by Anthony Hitchens on Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns and still don't understand how you can call that hitting a defenseless player? Looked pretty text book to me.
  • There is nothing more educational than talking about how to run routes with Jason Witten. On the plane flight home Monday, he took a minute to stop by and do just that. What I was curious about was how he was able to get past Jacksonville safeties Johnathan Cyprien and Josh Evans on that route where he and Tony Romo just missed connecting on the opening drive. Witten said when he came off the ball and saw how tight they both were to the line of scrimmage that he knew if he could clear them quickly that he had a chance for a big play. On the play, I thought that if Romo had just put a little more air under the pass that Witten would have had a better shot to run it down -- but because it was on a line, that option was out.
  • I find it odd that at this point of the season Cam Lawrence has a sack and Tyrone Crawford does not.
  • This might be the strangest schedule I have ever experienced in all my time in the NFL. To make a team play a game in another country, then turn around and make them play a divisional night game on the road -- only to have them play another divisional game some three days later is unheard of. To Jason Garrett's credit, he will not allow this to be an excuse as he prepares his team, but if I was Jerry Jones I would be giving the Commissioner an earful at the next league meetings. They can talk all they want about player safety but this is far from it.
  • As the weather begins to turn nasty, I would expect to see more of Joseph Randle than Lance Dunbar in these games. Speed and quickness is a nice combination to have in your running back but when yards are hard to come by and these games hinge on possession-to-possession, Murray and Randle are better options in controlling a game. Scott Linehan gave us a little preview of that game plan against the Jaguars. Might is right. [embeddedad0]
  • You want a name of a player that shows up on film each and every week but doesn't get the credit he deserves – James Hanna. For a player that came into this league as a poor run blocker, he has developed into one of the better point-of-attack players on this squad. There was once a day where these coaches wanted nothing to do with putting Hanna in position where he had to handle the end man on the line of scrimmage, but today I can't imagine him not handling that role. It really is a credit to Hanna, but also to Mike Pope -- who has not only worked with Hanna but the other tight ends on how to finish their blocks with leverage and positioning. When this offense is really running the ball, James Hanna or Jason Witten is usually leading the way.
  • My gut feeling is that Amobi Okoye remains on the Non-Football Injury List and he gets a fresh start with the club in 2015. It is too late in the season for him to make any type of impact, and with the way the current rotation of defensive tackles is working, he would be hard pressed to beat any of those guys out. His comeback is a wonderful story, but it will just have to wait.
  • My bye weekend project -- Cowboys special teams film.   
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