Monday, November 02, 2009

Gholson: Minus T.O., Cowboys sing different tune

By NICK GHOLSON, Scripps Howard News Service professional football

ARLINGTON, Texas - Ever since T.O. left town, I have been up and down on whether handing him his walking papers was really the right decision for the Dallas Cowboys.

Love him or hate him, the guy is one of the best wide receivers in all of pro football.
Don't believe me. Just ask him.

T.O. might lie, but the numbers don't. In his three years in Dallas he caught 235 passes for 3.587 yards and 38 touchdowns.

And the Cowboys are better without him?

Yes. No. Yes No.

Heck, I don't know.

But after watching the Cowboys' 38-17 win over Seattle here Sunday, I am back on the "good riddance" bandwagon.

Tony Romo no longer has that 6-3, 225-pound albatross hanging around his neck. He doesn't have to worry anymore about making T.O. happy or about making Jerry Jones happy by making T.O. happy.

Romo completed 21 passes against the Seahawks to 10 different guys. All five wide receivers on the roster caught a pass. Four of them counting Patrick Crayton's 82-yard punt return scored touchdowns.

Sam Hurd caught only the second touchdown pass of his four-year career, hauling in a Romo pass and taking it 36 yards to the house in the first quarter.

Miles Austin's 3-yard TD catch in the third quarter was his fifth in three weeks. He has now caught 21 passes for 482 yards in three games.

"If they take away something, we've got to be good enough to do something else. The system is in place to have those options. I think you're seeing that we have different people do different things well, and we're getting them the ball in those situations," Romo explained.
Unlike relying on the dependable Jason Witten and then having a self-centered T.O. call you down for it.

Hurd is a different cat.

When asked to talk about the contributions he and Austin made Sunday, he stood up for his other teammates.

"I wouldn't just say Miles and I. I would say Kevin Ogletree, Patrick and Roy (Williams). We all contribute," Hurd said.

Can you imagine hearing something that unselfish or that sincere come out of the big mouth of Terrell Owens?

Me neither.

"Miles has great speed and great depth. He's strong and can get in and out of routes. I run decent routes and I can get in and out of my breaks real quick," Hurd explained. "So we bring a lot of different things as well as Kevin Ogletree. He's just nice. I like to call him nice because he can do it all, he's just very young.

"And Patrick and Roy, they have great talent, but they have different people covering them because they are star receivers. We can hit them in the holes that they are weak in, and when they double up on Patrick and Roy, Miles and I can sync up."

"I don't feel like a different player. I'm getting more opportunities, and I've capitalized. Sam got a big opportunity, and he capitalized today, so I think we're all just making plays when we get the chance to," said Austin, who caught five passes for 61 yards against Seattle.

The Cowboys have had two opportunities to reincarnate T.O. the past couple of weeks and divide the locker room.
Crayton was demoted behind Austin on the depth chart. But instead of pouting or running to Jerry, this guy just went out and contributed a pair of 82-yard punt returns for touchdowns.
Roy Williams could now be a problem child, if he chooses.

Right now, although Romo won't admit it, the guy who is supposed to be the Cowboys' go-to guy is just not getting it done.

Yeah, he caught a 12-yard touchdown pass against the Seahawks, but Romo threw seven passes in Williams' direction and five of them hit the turf.

"I see Roy and Tony not on the same page," coach Wade Phillips said. "They're getting closer. They talk to each other afterwards. A couple of times Tony thought Roy was going to go here, and he went there and vice versa. We just have to keep working on that."
Stevie Wonder could see that.

"It's frustrating, but we just have to continue to work, and one of these days, it will just click," Williams said. "And when that happens, it will be dangerous. I try to catch everything thrown my way, but sometimes it's really tough, and it's my fault. I should have caught those balls."

What? A Dallas wide receiver admitting fault even though Romo deserves half the blame?
How un-T.O.-ish is that?

This is not the same team we watched and listened to a year ago.

Now T.O. can hiss and moan all he wants. We don't have to listen. He's 1,400 miles away.
Enjoy Buffalo, big guy. Winter is on the way.