Blue Star
The center of the Dallas Cowboys universe

Austin's Golden, But Run Must Remain Top Priority




    There's not much doubt anymore that Miles Austin is the Dallas Cowboys' most dangerous receiver.

    The Dallas Cowboys 24-7 win on Thanksgiving Day, over the woeful Oakland Raiders, only served to reaffirm Austin's abilities, and, indeed, what he can mean to the Dallas offense. As Jean-Jacques Taylor argues, in today's Dallas Morning News, many believe that Austin should be at the epicenter of the passing game; and maybe he should.

    But one should tread carefully the line between making him the top priority in the passing game, and making him the top priority on offense, as a whole; particularly when discussing a Jason Garrett-led attack.

    This isn't to devalue what Austin's emergence has meant to Dallas, or even to say that the basic argument made by Taylor is wrong; it isn't, really. The report cites a statistic, though, which is partially misleading: that in games when Austin has 100 or more yards receiving, the Cowboys are 3-0 and averaging 29.0 points.

    Granted, this is true and no one (that I know) would care to argue with the fact that getting the ball to Austin is a good thing; but it is not merely the Miles Austin Show that means a solid offensive performance for Dallas, and it might not even be the preeminent factor in such showings. Consider the three games in which Austin has exceeded the 100 yard watermark:

    Week five, at Kansas City--Austin has a record-breaking coming-out party, putting up ten catches, for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Dallas also ran the ball 32 times, for 125 yards.

    Week seven, against Atlanta--Austin follows up his record-breaking day with a six-catch, 171 yard, two-touchdown day. Marion Barber and Tashard Choice combined for 23 carries, 145 yards and a touchdown.

    Week twelve, against Oakland--Austin goes for seven catches, 145 yards and a touchdown in a laugher. Barber, Choice and Felix Jones are all involved, combining for 24 carries, 196 yards and a touchdown. The ball is distributed between the three beautifully, and each runner has between 60- and 68-yards rushing.

    Notice a trend, here?

    Of course, the big-play threat is one necessary to today's NFL franchise; this doesn't mean that the old and kind of cliched establish-the-run-first truism has lost any merit along the way. Get Austin the ball and you will win? Perhaps. But Austin's involvement, to say nothing of a healthy offense in general, hinges on establishing the run. And with the stable of running backs like that in Dallas, this should be at this point--like the statement that Austin is the Cowboys greatest receiving threat--obvious.