It’s been a season filled with ups and downs, but mostly downs. After the devastating loss of quarterback Tony Romo, I like many others thought we’d be in for some ugly football the rest of the way.
When Jason Garrett took over as head coach, I was optimistic that we might see some inspired play by our team, even though any chance to earn a playoff spot was already shattered.
What we’ve learned under Garrett is that this team has a lot of fight in them and a lot of character as well. Each passing week, Garrett continues to gain the respect of his players and fans as well, and calls for making him the permanent head coach are getting louder as the season comes to an end.
During the Cowboys recent inspired play, one player who continues to carry the load and perform at a high level is tight end Jason Witten.
I recently read an article on ESPN that discussed effectiveness inside the red zone, a long-time problem for the Cowboys going back about three seasons now. In case you hadn’t noticed, the Cowboys have made some huge strides in that area this season, and you can credit Witten for the bulk of it.
Through 13 games this year the Cowboys are seventh in the NFL in red-zone efficiency with 23 touchdowns in 38 trips.
Witten is having a remarkable season despite how bad the team has floundered. After putting up six touchdown catches in the last two seasons, Witten now has six touchdown catches this year, and is only one score away from matching his career high set in 2007.
He is currently tied for third in the NFL among tight ends in TD catches, trailing only Antonio Gates (10) and Marcedes Lewis (9).
For some strange reason, Witten had become an afterthought in the red zone last season and for the first part of this season, but clearly the Cowboys have seen the error of their ways and have implemented Witten as a primary weapon again, especially in these situations. I give Jon Kitna much of the credit for his resurgence in the second half as well.
In a strange twist regarding the Cowboys red zone efficiency, the Cowboys have only five rushing touchdowns from inside the red zone. Only Miami with four has fewer.
By the way, does anybody else want to scream whenever Felix Jones is asked to stuff it up the middle on first, second or third and goal?