Sep 8, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) lays on the ground after being sacked in the second quarter of the game against the New York Giants at AT

Dallas Cowboys' offense still stuck in neutral

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.


Sep 8, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) is tackled by several members of the New York Giants defense in the second quarter of the game at AT

Sep 8, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) is tackled by several members of the New York Giants defense in the second quarter of the game at AT

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.

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  • Tom Dobbins

    As usual The Landry Hats article is negative going off stats of the first game against a divisional rival with the offensive line not at full strength. The most important statistic in any sport is did you get the win. I am not satisfied with where the offense or defense is at but we did accomplish something we have never done before and beat the Giants in the new stadium. I feel things are on the right track and expect to see improvement each week. So lets give the BOYS a few week to grow before getting down on them or worry about what form they will be in December.

  • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

    I did not see any glaring problems with Garrett’s play calling last year. When you don’t have the potential for a running game then obviously you have no choice but to pass. Stripping Garrett of the offensive play calling was a mistake. Callahan will not be any better and I predict it will even end up to be worse. .

    • Tom Dobbins

      I don’t think they made the change because there was a big problem with Garrett’s play calling. I think it had more to do with freeing him up to be more on top of his head coaching duties such as time management during the games and pay closer attention to the small important details during the week. I personally do not think it will be worse. I like that Romo has some say in what happens. They looked pretty good when they sped the tempo up.

    • Richard

      Also, Garrett was not “stripped” of anything. When he first became head coach, it is confirmed that he would look to turn over play calling duties to someone else. I don’t care if Jesus was calling the plays the last few years, if you don’t have a line that can block consistently, execution of those plays in nearly impossible.

      • disqus_kLJwdEdnOL

        Thanks for the reply. I did not know that the Cowboys had decided so
        early in the hiring of Garrett that he would be looking to turn over the
        play calling to somebody else. The timing of that decision is very unusual. I don’t recall every hearing about the decision even though it should have been very newsworthy.

  • Richard

    Why are all columists and even former players so obsessed with numbers. They don’t tell the whole story. I thought the Cowboys played solid. Could have been better, but if they didn’t get any turnovers, they would already be saying the Monte Kiffin era was already a failure. Tony did a pretty good job of just taking what the defense gave him.they took away the deep ball so you go underneath. We had miscues on defense, but that was to be expected learning a new scheme. I don’t care what anyone says, Monte Kiffin’s new defense is not “easy”. There are so many facets to his defense and the Tampa 2 is only one type of defensive formation/scheme of dozens. It’s still way to early to be making grandiose statements about anyone or any team. Let’s just be happy we got a win, shall we?

  • siempre44

    OFFENSIVE LINE: the Cowboys have not had one since Jimmy left and the whole story starts and stops there. The Boys cannot have any offensive consistency because the o-line has none. Jones had the chance to draft a guard in round 2 and took the ‘shiny thing’ instead- a receiver/tight end that plays 10 plays instead of the starting R guard that real football people can see is the Achilles heal of the offense. No O-line- no playoffs. Simple.