IRVING, Texas – Three games into the season, the Cowboys have had at least four players ignite this offense at different times.
In the opener, Jason Witten scored two touchdowns and Miles Austin caught a team-high 10 passes.
In Kansas City, Dez Bryant was all-world, catching nine balls for XX and a score, although it wasn't enough to beat the Chiefs at the end.
And of course, it was DeMarco Murray's day on Sunday against the Rams as he racked up 175 yards and a touchdown in the 31-7 win at AT&T Stadium.
Two wins … three games, but four different players keying the attack.
Is that ideal in today's NFL? Head coach Jason Garrett says, "absolutely."
"You want to be able to attack a lot of different ways. You want to have some oak and some willow to you," Garrett said Monday afternoon. "You want to be able to do things – 'we can do this every week, this is who we are.' But you also need to be able to respond to where the opportunities are. I thought Tony (Romo) did an outstanding job in the game, finding the right guy, working through his professions and finding the mismatches. I think it all comes from the fact we were able to run the ball as well as we did. You start to dictate the coverages and you get the chances you want down the field."
And it's not always about dictating schemes during the game, but during the week as well.
Heading into the Week 1 game with the Giants, the buzz surrounding Dez Bryant and his potential breakout season obviously forced New York into trying to stop him first and foremost. The coverage the Giants used took away many deep passes for him with safety help over the top. It allowed the Cowboys to work the underneath routes, resulting in 26 catches by Witten, Murray and Austin, who had 10. Bryant, meanwhile had just four for 22 yards in a winning effort.
The next week in Kansas City however, the Chiefs took the underneath stuff for Witten and Austin away by dropping the safeties into the box more. They decided to put cornerback Brandon Flowers on Bryant one-on-one for most of the day. The Cowboys started off by torching that matchup as Bryant had five catches for 100 yards in the first half, including a touchdown.
In the second half, the Chiefs switched it up and put more safety help on the back end. They were able to do that without consequences because they could stop the Cowboys' running attack without loading up the box.
St. Louis also tried that tactic last week but to no avail. This time, Murray torched that plan with his 175 yards, his second-highest total of his career – only short of the Cowboys' single-game record of 253 yards he had against the Rams in 2011.
"It's hard to stack the box whenever you have 88 on the outside and Miles and Witten," Murray said on Monday. "Those are guys you've got to pay attention to. It's good having those guys on your team"
On the flip side, Bryant agrees and actually hopes teams will watch Sunday's tape of Murray running wild and try to go back to the stacked line of scrimmage.
"It all depends on what they want to do. It all depends on what their game plan is," Bryant said. "If they want to focus on me this week, if they want to focus on Wit, if they want to focus on D-Mo, it all depends, but I know we'll have answers."
The question that begs now is, *have the Cowboys showed all of their weapons? *
Four different playmakers in a three-game stretch is probably good enough. But if the Cowboys ran into a team that somehow managed to limit all of them, do they have other help in the passing and running game? [embedded_ad]
Last week alone, touchdown passes went to Dwayne Harris and Gavin Escobar, who actually nearly had another grab although he landed out of bounds on a corner-fade route in the end zone. Cole Beasley was active last week for the first time this season and had one catch for seven yards. Rookie Terrance Williams ranks fifth on the team with five catches for 60 yards and would likely be called up in a greater role if the Cowboys were to play without Austin, who suffered a hamstring injury Sunday and could be limited this week.
Although Garrett said the Cowboys are not overly concerned by Austin's latest injury.
Then again, if Austin can't go, the Cowboys have already shown they've got enough firepower in reserve.