NEW ORLEANS - DECEMBER 19: Miles Austin #19 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after his 49-yard touchdown in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on December 19, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Since emerging as a serious receiving threat with a 10-catch, 250-yard, 2-touchdown performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 5, Miles Austin has endeared himself to fans and media nationwide. "I hate the Cowboys, but I really like that Miles Austin," has become a familiar refrain on message boards and in bar rooms, one indicative of Austin's story.
It is a nice one: undrafted, unproven and ever humble, Austin's success in 2009 has been paralleled by few receivers in Cowboys' history, and exactly none (by my count) that were passed over completely in the draft.
With 65 catches, 1,138 yards and 11 touchdowns, Austin is producing like a quiet, gracious Terrell Owens. Because of this, it seems that no one has anything negative to say about him. Well, except, apparently, for former Cowboys' head coach Jimmy Johnson.
Johnson--who should be, and usually is, revered by Cowboys fans as a sort of coaching demigod--criticized Austin's speed recently, as detailed by Gerry Fraley at the Dallas Morning News:
"Austin is strong and has a great burst," Johnson said. "But he doesn't have any separation speed, which is probably why he wasn't in the lineup earlier in the season. He's not really a fast guy but he does break tackles and make big plays."
Well, fair enough. But I seem to remember another Cowboys receiver--one who played for Johnson--who lacked great speed, but made plays at such a rate that he earned the very fitting nickname of "The Playmaker."
Not that I'd care to compare the two at this point; that would be shortsighted at best. But for the sake of clarity, the similarities should be noted. And aside from that, I don't recall Austin having any trouble outrunning defensive backs of late.
Hey, maybe he meant to say Roy Williams.