Let’s get to it, quickly.
Away we go:
I wonder if the Cowboys will spy Cam Newton with a linebacker Thursday. In the past, that job would have gone to the uber-athletic Bruce Carter. He might be in the top-five athletes the Cowboys have had since I’ve covered this team. His speed was tremendous. But I’m not sure I see a linebacker with the ability to stay with Newton at this time. Rolando McClain has the size to handle Newton, but he’s not as swift. In the last two years against the Seattle Seahawks the Cowboys have used a mush-rush to contain Russell Wilson, telling their defensive linemen to stay disciplined and keep Wilson in the pocket. The Cowboys could use the same strategy on Newton, even if he is bigger.
I wonder if the Cowboys will realize Byron Jones' brightest future is at safety. He struggled in his first full game at cornerback, giving up a 47-yard catch and a 29-yard touchdown against Miami, but he’s not exactly been put in the best position to succeed either. Before Morris Claiborne went down with a hamstring injury, Jones hadn’t played corner since training camp. Throwing him back in at corner is a lot to ask of a rookie who has bounced around a few spots. So keep that in mind before you get down on Jones’ performance. The problem for the Cowboys is they don’t have better options at the moment. They want to keep Tyler Patmon in the nickel defense and have yet to see Deji Olatoye play a meaningful snap.
Robert Turbin is the third former Seattle Seahawks running back the Cowboys have added this season. I wonder if he’s the one who makes a long-term impression. Christine Michael didn’t. Rod Smith a rookie and needs time. When the Cowboys added Turbin last week it wasn’t immediately noticed that the Cowboys tied him up through 2016. I’m not ready to say anything more than Turbin could be part of the committee approach next season. Darren McFadden is signed through 2016. Lance Dunbar is a free agent and coming off a major knee injury. Smith and Trey Williams are also under contract. It’s possible McFadden could be the only runner guaranteed a spot next season, but Turbin made quite the first impression.
I wonder if the Cowboys will look back on their seven-game losing streak and think they should have attacked more offensively. Hear me out. I believe they went into a shell with Brandon Weeden because they weren’t sure how he would react. They opened it up a little more for Matt Cassel, but not much. Because they rely so much on Tony Romo, it’s easy to have simpler game plans knowing Romo will get the offense out of the wrong play and into the right one. When you have backups sometimes you have to help them by being more creative. That’s not something the Cowboys did with Weeden or Cassel. Being creative isn’t about trick plays. It’s about using the scheme to help players get open. Too often they just relied on guys to win one-on-one battles. With Dez Bryant and Romo on the field, that’s easier to accomplish. Without them, it’s far too difficult. I think that will be one regret the Cowboys will have when the season ends.
I wonder who the Cowboys will host on Thanksgiving next year. The whole AFC/NFC thing doesn’t matter with the networks now. CBS is broadcasting Thursday's game between NFC teams. The Cowboys are set to host Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Cincinnati and an NFC South team next year in addition to their division rivals. Could it be the New York Giants? The Cowboys have played them just once on Turkey Day (1992). It can’t be the Lions. Chicago might be a good pick. The Bengals could be a top matchup too. The Ravens should be a bounce-back team in 2016 but Joe Flacco will be coming back from a major knee injury. I’d take a matchup with the Bengals though.