12:13 PM CDT on Thursday, March 12, 2009
IRVING – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones believes the release of Terrell Owens will allow Tony Romo to spread the ball around more. Sam Hurd said the same thing the day Owens was cut.
"I know it takes a lot of pressure off Romo focusing on one main feature, like Terrell," Hurd said. "As a guy like him, he demands the ball and it made you want to try to get him the ball. With him being released, [Romo] doesn't have one main guy, so he can look at every one of us and see whichever one is open on any play and get the ball to him."
Jones said the decision to cut loose Owens had little to do with locker room chemistry, but he admits it had something to do with on-field chemistry.
When you have a receiver like Owens, quarterbacks cater to him whether they know it or not. He was the target of 140 throws last season, tied for ninth in the NFL. He needs, wants, craves the football and even when he was the intended target 20 times against Washington – whether the passes were catchable or not – he wasn't happy.
The Cowboys will look to replace Owens' production by spreading the wealth.
Roy Williams gets his crack to be a No. 1 receiver on a playoff contender. Jason Witten will continue to catch 80 to 85 passes a year at tight end. Patrick Crayton needs to return to his 2007 form and Miles Austin needs to reach his potential.
Marion Barber caught 52 passes last year. Tashard Choice caught 21. A healthy Felix Jones will be a plus out of the backfield. Martellus Bennett will get his chances after catching 20 passes as a rookie.
Romo will have the opportunity to make these players better in the passing game.
Owens is not the type of receiver to make a quarterback better. For his build, he is not a physical receiver. He doesn't go up and take the ball away from defensive backs. He doesn't make the tough catches enough. He is among the greatest ever when he can catch the ball in stride.
Larry Fitzgerald is a physical receiver. Think of Arizona's playoff run. Think of the catch he made against the Cowboys when he picked it off the top of Anthony Henry's helmet. Kurt Warner makes the throw because he knows either Fitzgerald will make the catch or knock it down. Owens doesn't do that. Williams said he can. Now he gets to prove it.
Tom Brady won three Super Bowls in New England with Troy Brown, David Patten, Kevin Faulk, Daniel Graham, Deion Branch and Patrick Pass catching most of his passes. They weren't superstar players, but Brady made them better.
Romo will now have that opportunity and he starts from a better place with Williams having a 1,000-yard season under his belt and one of the game's best tight ends in Witten.
Jones said the goal this off-season was to be Romo-friendly.
By cutting Owens, Jones is making sure this team is as Romo-friendly as possible.