IRVING, Texas -- We’re back for another installment of 5 Wonders as the Cowboys enter their fifth game of the season with a 2-2 record.
** Detroit had success against the Cowboys defense with an empty set. The move slowed down the Cowboys’ pass rush and Matthew Stafford was able to get the ball to Calvin Johnson. I wonder if New England does the same this week. The Patriots love the empty set and Tom Brady flourishes in the formation. In 2009-10, Tom Brady completed 124-of-175 passes for 1,234 yards with seven touchdowns and two picks. He was also sacked only once.
** As well as the Dallas defense has played this year, you have to assume the Patriots will score points because that’s what they do against just about everybody. I wonder if the Cowboys work more on the red zone this week because of it. In the Patriots last nine losses the opponent converted on at least 50 percent of their red-zone opportunities eight times. Only the Jets in 2009 won when making good on one of three chances inside the New England 20. So far this season, the Cowboys are 5-of-15 in the red zone. They can stack up yards on defenses but the Cowboys have to do a better job getting touchdowns that deep. Having a healthy Miles Austin and Dez Bryant should help. Going to Jason Witten would help, too.
** The trade deadline is next Tuesday. I wonder if the Cowboys think about shopping some players, specifically Martellus Bennett and Tashard Choice. I’m not saying they should trade them, but I wonder if they would think about it. Both players are in the last years of their contracts. Neither will be re-signed in free agency, unless there is no market for either guy. They want to get a bigger share of the offensive pie. I don’t blame them. So if we all believe this to be true then why not get a draft pick or even a conditional draft pick in return? And to head off the next question about some sort of blockbuster trade, I don’t see that happening.
** The Cowboys had a chance to make a trade with Jacksonville in the first round, so the Jaguars could take quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Instead of taking the Jags’ first two picks, they held at No. 9 and took Tyron Smith and Jacksonville made the deal with Washington for the No. 10 pick. Had the Cowboys made the deal I believe (not wonder) they would have taken Colorado tackle Nate Solder at No. 16 overall. The Cowboys visited with him extensively before the draft, including at Valley Ranch, and liked his athleticism and makeup. Solder has started four of five games for the Patriots and has received good reviews. Just not as good as Smith’s reviews. He has gotten off to an excellent start and will lock up a tackle spot for at least the next decade.
** I wonder how Jason Garrett gets to his 46-man roster for Sunday’s game now that he has mostly a healthy roster for the first time. Defensive end Jason Hatcher is in question because of the calf injury and Derrick Dockery is not expected back. But with Orlando Scandrick and Miles Austin returning, can the Cowboys afford to bring five cornerbacks and six wide receivers to the game? Against New England, I’d keep five cornerbacks active, so the spot could come down to Dwayne Harris or Kevin Ogletree if the Cowboys go that way. And even if David Buehler is healthy, do you see a way the Cowboys can take two kickers to the game?