Terrell Owens - when healthy and focused on strictly playing football - will make the Dallas Cowboys better.
Owens is the dynamic, catalytic, just-get-the-freakin'-ball-in-his-hands-and-everyone-get-out-of-the-way type of receiver the Cowboys haven't had since Michael Irvin.
Yep, sorry, Joey Galloway and Rocket Ismail. You guys were super fast and made some plays when the opportunity was there. But we never saw you take over the game and dominate.
Owens is that type of player. And those types of players take the pressure off of everyone else.
I've been asked about this offensive line for about a month now. What's up with Flozell? Can Kosier hold up? Who's playing right tackle? Why in the world did they get rid of Larry Allen?
(Let's just avoid that last one altogether because I still scratch my head about that one. But that was for another column . . . like two weeks ago, actually.)
As for the rest of these O-Line concerns, they are all valid. But trust me, Owens will help dramatically.
Remember when Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson were playing quarterback back in 2002 and Emmitt Smith was the only decent weapon the Cowboys had on offense? What did we hear every week, usually from Smith trying to explain why he just went for 38 yards on 17 carries?
It always the same line: "Eight men in the box."
Eight defenders jammed up at the line of scrimmage, making sure the running game didn't get going at all costs. No matter what, to beat us, you're going to have to take us deep.
Eight men in the box. Works for some teams. The Cowboys might even do it some if they trust their cornerbacks enough.
But against the Cowboys? Good luck.
Even with seven in the box, a standard 4-3 or 3-4 defense will have fits trying to stop this passing attack.
Forgive me if this is starting to go down the "homer" path, but it's just the facts. Terry Glenn beats single coverage. Jason Witten will beat just about any linebacker you put on him, and most safeties, too.
And of course, Owens has shown he can beat single- and double-coverage.
So something has to give. Smart money says it will be an extra defender.
Linebackers will cheat back more often, and maybe the Cowboys will see more nickel defenses on first and second down. Something has to be done.
See, just like that, we're pulling defenders "out of the box" instead of adding them.
And that takes us back to the offensive line again. Owens, joined by Glenn and Witten - and let's even throw in Patrick Crayton, too - will force teams to do one of two things:
- Either play back and try to cover these guys with more defenders.
- Blitz the house and try to get to Bledsoe before he can get three, five or seven steps into a drop.
Either is risky. If you give Bledsoe time, he's proven he can pick teams apart, no matter how many defenders are roaming in the secondary. And if you blitz, you better get there because Owens is the type of player who doesn't need to be wide open to make the catch.
Guys like T.O. and T.G. and J.W.? (Yeah, that doesn't work, let's just call him Witten.) Those three just need the ball in their hands. Get to them quickly in the play and let them go.
If the Cowboys can do that a few times throughout a game, just imagine how much pressure it takes off of the line. Blocking for three seconds and blocking for one is a big difference.
Sure, this offensive line is going to have to play well. No doubt about that. But T.O.'s presence alone will help. Even if Sam Hurd was a better receiver right now than Owens, he wouldn't provide as much relief to the rest of this offense.
Along with Owens' size, speed, strength and ability to make the big play, Owens has history. He has skins on the wall. He strikes fear in opponents, and that alone is good enough to warrant double-coverage without even playing a snap.
Yes, Terrell Owens will make this team better on sight alone.
But that only lasts for so long. A few games, maybe more. At some point, T.O. will have to show he's still the dynamic superstar the Cowboys have paid him to be.
When that happens, and