The off-season was about changing philosophies and to get out of the mediocrity mentality that had plagued the Dallas Cowboys for the last three years. One of the biggest changes was at the offensive side of the football, when Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones decided to strip Head Coach Jason Garrett of play calling duties.
Garrett, who has called plays since he arrived here in 2007, gave the responsibilities to current offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Callahan. They also upgraded the offensive line, changed to a new zone blocking scheme and brought in four running backs to help bolster the running game. The goal was to get the team back to basics and score points at will. A week into the NFL season, the changes don’t look too effective.
Though the stats say that the Cowboys are the 2nd ranked offense in terms of points, 13 of those points came from defensive scores. Add in another 9 field goals by Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey and you get just a grand total of 14 points. Other stats show that while the Cowboys offense did pass for over 300 yards, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo only had 5.4 yards per attempt on 49 pass attempts. That is his lowest number in that category since 2009. The Cowboys rush offense currently stands at 6th in the NFL with 87 yards rushing. That sounds great, but it was on 23 attempts for an average of 3.8 yards per carry.
Most would argue that those numbers are pretty good for an offense that is only one week into the season, but I would counter that with the 6 forced turnovers by their defense, the Cowboys should have scored more. The first play of the game was an interception by Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Ware inside the New York Giant’s territory at their 20 yard line. Yet, you only get a field goal off that turnover? When your kicker is getting the points off turnovers for you, then you have a major problem.
The Cowboys offense has the potential to be ranked in the top 5 in the NFL if they can figure out the minor kinks that continue to stall their drives. First off, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant needs to figure out how to overcome double and triple teams. Bryant is a superstar and he will get the superstar treatment about 95 % of the time. The great players know how to overcome the constant attention and still make plays. Also, Bryant, for the time being, needs to embrace the role of a decoy and let the others on the offense shine while the defense blanket him. Also, Romo needs to get on cue with his receivers better in order to avoid mental mistakes that end up like the almost pick six from Sunday’s game.
The second part in fixing the offense is to commit to the running game. The Cowboys had 49 pass attempts for Romo and that was too much. Even Garrett called for a more balanced attack from his team after the game. A successful run game will not only help shut down games at the end but will open up the defense for Bryant and the other receivers. You will start to see those double and triple teams start to vanish and that is when you start to shred them with the play action throws to number 88 down the field.
The third and most crucial part is to score inside the red zone. You can’t rely on your defense to help score 13 points every game. Dan Bailey needs to be your clutch player at the end of games, not be your primary offensive weapon early in games. Scoring touchdowns is the name of the game and there is no need for all the talent if you can’t use it to score inside the 20.
The offense last Sunday was merely ok. Ok doesn’t win you games in December and January. The offense is just too talented to be a mediocre scoring threat.