IRVING, Texas - If the Cowboys come out of CenturyLink Field boarding the charter plane with a victory and their fifth straight win, it will likely mean one thing: they took care of the football.
In well over half of his answers to the media this week, wide receiver Cole Beasley, almost without thinking, responded with, 'We just have to take care of the football.' It seemed to be reiteration from what the coaching staff has obviously been honing in on this week: all four backs (Murray, Dunbar, Randle, Clutts) carried the football tucked high and tight through the duration of practice.
But Beasley isn't just reiterating what the coaches are emphasizing. Protecting the football is something he can hang his hat on – five games into the season, he's proving it more and more.
Beasley has seen 14 targets and snagged 12 of them, for 98 yards. Averaging 8.2 yards a catch, on routes that are generally predictable to defenses, Beasley has been a fumble free and dependable target for Tony Romo.
"We've just go to do the same things we do to win football games; not turn the ball over, run the ball well, get open, and catch the ball. I mean, really, it's simple."
In his first season with the Cowboys, passing-game coordinator Scott Linehan is creatively doing exactly what the Cowboys have hoped for: keeping loyal to the run game, as well as providing an imbalance of plays for opposing defenses.
Tony Romo deserves some of that credit, as well. Through five games, his performance has evolved positively. He's starting to mesh, both mentally and physically, with Linehan's 'unbalanced play' approach.
"It's interesting, you could go into this (Seahawks) game, if you're running it great, you might throw it 20 times," Romo said. "If you're not running it great you can throw it a bunch of times." [embedded_ad]
A dependable option is targeting Beasley for the short, quick, and sometimes unnoticed first downs. His breaking routes and curl routes aren't as heavily touted, but Beasley's size doesn't mirror his importance for picking up hidden yardage.
Of his 12 catches this season, eight of those produced first downs. Six of those first down conversions were on third downs. In their 2013, season, the Cowboys only converted 35 percent of third downs. But Beasley was the leading third-down converter, with Dez Bryant coming in second behind him.
Beasley reiterated in half a dozen ways, his concern is taking care of the football. Through five games, he's done his part well. He may have his biggest share of opportunities yet in Seattle on Sunday. The Seahawks' defensive pride will arise from those well-known (and heard) cornerbacks pressuring Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams.
"We like to focus more on ourselves than the other team," Beasley said. "As long as we run our offense, and do the things that we do well, and not turn the ball over, I think we'll be alright. Making plays when we get the opportunity to, and holding on to the football, not giving them up and giving them opportunities. That's what it boils down to."