IRVING, Texas -- With two games left, the season is winding down but we’re still wondering about some things. Here are five of them:
** I’ve resisted this one for quite a long time, but now I wonder if the Cowboys will switch Tyron Smith and Doug Free next year. Free has not played as well as he did in 2010, but let me point out that while people will want to credit two sacks to Free in the last two games, I’d put them more on Montrae Holland (he stuck too long inside with Free setting wide to take away the outside threat) and Tony Romo (the QB has to get rid of the ball after Free pushes a rusher past the pocket). But Smith has not played like a rookie, has a terrific demeanor and the athleticism to handle the left tackle spot. Maybe they should make the move in the offseason. That being said look at the left defensive ends/outside linebackers in the NFC East. Guys like Justin Tuck aren’t so easy to block either.
** I wonder if people realize how hard it is to spread the ball around the way the Cowboys and Tony Romo have this season. The top wide receivers, Dez Bryant, Laurent Robinson and Miles Austin, have eight, eight and six touchdown catches. There is a chance the Cowboys will have four guys with at least 50 catches. Jason Witten has 68, Bryant has 51. Robinson has 49 and Miles Austin has 37. With two games against teams in which Austin has put up numbers in the past, he could reach the 50-catch mark, despite missing six games. The Cowboys have never had four guys with at least 50 catches. They’ve had four guys catch at least 40 passes in the same season just six times in the Jones’ Era.
** Something right is happening in the personnel department. Tony Fiammetta, Laurent Robinson and Montrae Holland were all signed “off the street,” and have become valuable members of the Cowboys’ offense. After one game, I’d put Sammy Morris in that category, too. With just three practices, Morris was a big part of last week’s game plan. I wonder if that will remain for the rest of the season. It should. Morris’ experience made him a better signing than, say, Lonyae Miller, who had experience in the Cowboys’ system. His history with Jason Garrett helped too. The Cowboys have tried these sorts of moves and they haven’t always worked: Michael Bates in 2003, Allen Rossum two years ago. It’s difficult to find players at this time of year to help. The pro scouting staff deserves some praise.
** Last week I asked Stephen Jones if he could see Stephen McGee as the Cowboys’ No. 2 quarterback in 2012. I didn’t expect Jones to say no, but I wonder if McGee will be the No. 2 guy next year. Here’s why: Since Jason Garrett has been with the Cowboys he has had Brad Johnson and Jon Kitna as Tony Romo’s backup quarterbacks. Combined, they had 456 years of NFL experience. I might be off by a century or three. But clearly Garrett values experience in the backup. I think it gives him another voice to bounce things off in the meeting room and it gives Romo another set of eyes. Unless something drastically happens in the final two weeks, McGee will enter next year having played in two games in his first three seasons. Next year will also be a contract year for him. I’ve also wondered if the Cowboys would select a quarterback early in the 2012 draft.
** I wonder if Sean Lee can finish the season with more solo tackles than whoever finishes second on the team in total tackles. With two games to go, the coaches have credited Lee with 77 solo tackles. Gerald Sensabaugh is second on the team with 70 total tackles, trailing Lee by a staggering 46. For those counting at home, Lee has 39 assisted tackles. Lee needs a sack and a forced fumble to record a check mark in the 10 major defensive categories. He is tied for the team lead with four interceptions. He is second with nine pass deflections. He is tied for the lead in fumble recoveries (two). His six tackles for a loss are tied for second best on the defense. Fan voting for the Pro Bowl ended Monday. Players, coaches and personnel folks vote this week. I wonder if Lee will get a spot. If it doesn’t happen this year, it will happen in the future. Book it.