the best-friends-with Romo stuff? That is so insulting. And let's also remember if he was a receiving tight end, as Bill Parcells once needled him during a mini-camp practice his rookie season, he might have 110 catches by now. But the Cowboys ask him to block, too, like a traditional tight end, and even ask him to line up in the backfield as a blocking fullback. We're talking a complete tight end here.
"He has a great feel for the game," says Jason Garrett, the offensive play-caller who certainly has leaned on his tight end this season.
But 94 catches has to be more than just that.
OK, start with Terry Glenn's knee injury, keeping him out these first 15 games. As Garrett said, "We needed to have an answer when Terry went out on the strong side (of the formation, opposite Owens) . . . and Witt stepped up at every turn." Now I'm buying that. Someone had to pick up Glenn's probable 70 catches.
Then let's go to these defenses' preoccupation with stopping Owens, no better example than Detroit, doubling and even tripling Owens to take him out but then allowing Witten to catch 15 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown.
"They're doubling (Owens), rolling to him, they're running underneath him, put him inside and he gets attention, but then Witt gets a lot of attention, too," Garrett said of this Cowboys offense being versatile enough to play pick-your-poison with defenses.
That addresses need and opportunity. But, dude, the guy still has to get open, still has to catch the ball, still has to know where to sit in zone coverage.
"We have played so much together, and he can run routes most tight ends can't," Romo explains.
Back in the day they used to make a big deal about the Johnny Unitas-to-Raymond Berry combination. This isn't much different. And Romo's right, not many tight ends can run those double-move vertical routes down the field, or that patented seam-route like he did for the game-winning 16-yard touchdown catch against Detroit.
"He's a hybrid," Cowboys inside linebacker Bradie James explains. "He can do so much. There are times he's got to block a linebacker, but a linebacker can't cover him if he's not, and if a DB is there, he still can run routes on him or he pancakes him if he has to block."
Maybe most of all, as Romo will tell you, "You're always looking for guys to win one-on-one matchups, and Witt wins one-on-one matchups."
Very few times does he get covered by one guy. Teams have resorted to bracket coverage, but even at that, Witten has this knack for settling down in between, where Romo can fit a pass in tightly, or if need be, Romo has learned to stay with Witten a tad longer than normal, trusting his tight end eventually will get open.
"It's not always one-on-one," Garrett contends. "He has great feel for finding the open holes in there and he has great discipline when we have kind of progression routes, and not necessarily when we are throwing the ball to Witt. But he's working through the progression and he's finding the open hole on time for Tony.
"He always does a great job being a viable receiver, and quarterbacks love that."
As for Witten, aw shucks, the O-line, he says, does such a great job he rarely has to stay in to block, the quarterback has great trust in him, T.O. is on the other side and the offensive coordinator does a great job getting him into the patterns.
Add it all up, and you've got a tight end giving defenses headaches, and trying to become only the second one in NFL history to log 100 catches.
And the truth of the matter is, until like two weeks ago, he had no clue about any of this, basically like the rest of us waking up one Monday morning to find himself leading the NFC with 94 catches. He readily admits to having been caught up in all the rest of that stuff, too.
Let that sink in, as well.