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Eatman: Three Guys On Offense To Be Encouraged About

IRVING, Texas -There's a tough line to walk when a team gets so close to winning a big game and fails in the end.

On one hand, it's difficult to see the positives but on the other, there obviously had to be several things that went right to even put the team in position to win. And since there is no turning back in the NFL, or life for that matter, it makes no sense to keep dwelling on those 26 seconds in Baltimore.

Cam Newton and his Panthers don't really care what happened to the Cowboys last week.

So if we're moving on, then it's important to take a few of the positives that did come out of the Ravens game, and three guys in particular stood out enough to be encouraged about in the future.

For starters, and it's likely he will be one again, let's go with Felix Jones. The running back who many people wanted to be cut, traded or simply deactivated in favor of the younger guys, came through with his best performance of the season.

Frankly, he didn't need DeMarco Murray's foot sprain injury to make a splash. Jones had already scored his first touchdown in more than a year with a 21-yard run in the first quarter. The burst and quickness that has made him an occasional-dynamic back was on display.

To me, as I went back and watched the game again, I noticed Jones in more areas than just running the ball. He was exceptional in blitz pick-up and he also did a nice job of becoming an available target for Romo in the passing game.

The Cowboys will miss Murray because of his own skill set, but Jones should fill in just fine.

Secondly, it can't be a coincidence the offensive line blocked so well with the return of Phil Costa at center. Here's a guy who like Jones, has always been criticized, but the Cowboys made it clear he was their starter over Ryan Cook. And it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon. Costa more than handled Ravens Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata inside and even showed more power and strength in his own blocking than ever before.

That back injury was obviously worse than most of us knew and if Costa really is healthy, he certainly had a good showing last week.

And let's not forget about John Phillips. The second tight end hasn't made a big impact this season and with Martellus Bennett performing well in New York as a starter, the questions have surfaced about the Cowboys' missing Marty B, especially as a blocker. Phillips played very well last week in helping the running game get back on track. There was a lot of talk about Lawrence Vickers paving the way, but he only played 15 of the 89 snaps on Sunday.

The Cowboys used Phillips more in the running game as the backup tight end played 48 snaps and none of that was to relieve starter Jason Witten, who was out there for all 89 plays.  

Again, it's still a loss but we've got 11 games to go. It's a long season and the Cowboys need this offense to play like it did Sunday to have a shot at turning this around.

Consistent contributions from Jones, Costa and Phillips will definitely help do just that.  

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