Pointless Playcalling Story A Bye Week Bore – Cowboys Just Need To Execute

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The Dallas media’s odd obsession with the Cowboys’ offensive playbook took a turn for the weird this week as reporters and columnists began questioning whether head coach Jason Garrett should reclaim play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Bill Callahan. Yes, the big off season nonstory is now a very obnoxious bye-week nonstory.


July 31, 2012; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris (17) misses pass during training camp drills. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to imagine this is anything more than a ploy designed to generate web clicks during bye week. Followers of the team already endured an avalanche of play calling speculation (most of it wrong) during the preseason. The web traffic must have been electric, though, as those who control content have gone back to that well in a slow news week.

For us consumers of Cowboys news, scanning the web for answers after a 49-17 beat down in New Orleans, this manufactured storyline is akin to watching The Dukes of Hazzard 2 – the first one was pretty lame fellas; doesn’t anyone have a new idea?

To illustrate, back in June Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw correctly wrote, “Callahan isn’t coming here to introduce a new playbook. He’s a coach who was already here who was involved in the offense last year and now he’s going to call the plays with input from Garrett. That’s the extent of the change.”

Following the Saints loss, Cowlishaw got weird: “Even if no Lombardi Trophies were added to Jones’ office in Garrett’s six years as play caller here — both as coordinator and head coach — this team did move the football. And quite well.”

Not to single out Cowlishaw, who’s a fine columnist, but this is selective memory. No one, Cowlishaw included, would in their right mind trade this offense for any the team has had since 2007. Why? Because the point of this game isn’t to amass yards – it’s to find the end zone.

Remember how maddening it was to watch Dallas drive 85 yards to kick a 19-yard field goal? Anyone want to go back to that? In Garrett’s first two full seasons as head coach/play caller, Dallas ranked 20th in red zone TD scoring percentage, punching it in for six points barely 50 percent of the time they made it inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. This year, with Callahan calling the shots, the ‘Boys are second in the league behind only Denver at 67 percent red zone conversion.

Ah, but those stats are a dirty lie, because surely the Cowboys have fewer red zone opportunities this year since they can’t move the ball, right?

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  • ctcowboy1968

    Execution, yes. Also, better game plan and in game adjustments. In addition, overall the players are not as talented as everyone thinks they are.

    • John

      If the players can’t execute, the game plan doesn’t matter.

    • Jd

      Better game planning is simply an illusion. We’re about to play our 11th game next Sunday. & since the Denver game, our offense has been absolutely abysmal. And since comparing Dallas to the top teams in this league, Seattle, Kansas City, Denver, Saints, Patriots, San Francisco & now Carolina is a joke of a conversation, let’s compare to the next level teams down. Detroit, Philadelphia, the Jets, Cincinnati, San Diego, Chicago & Greenbay. And even if you want to compare Dallas to every team I mentioned, there’s one distinct difference we have than all of them, defensive injuries. Some may call them excuses, well, I call them facts. And the second glaring difference between us and them, is balance. Our offense has absolutely no balance what so ever. And we are terrible at 3rd down efficiency on offense & defense.
      People can scream all they want that this is a qb to receiver game now, tell that to Seattle, Carolina, Kansas City, Cincinnati and the Jets.
      And as for questioning our talent, come on. If this team has dez, Miles, Williams, Harris, Beasley, Witten, Escobar, Murray and give Dunbar a chance to do anything, the only team better than us as an offensive group is Denver. We all know each of our offensive players deficiencies, but the fact remains, you can’t name another team, other than Denver better.
      And the fact that Callahan has absolutely no balance on offense, cannot find a way to get dez the ball and simply continues to use the same lame formations where the defense knows what’s coming, is the main reason for our mediocrity. He doesn’t utilize our backs in the passing game at all, refuses to put dez in the slot to confuse the defense…. Look what happened when he did it on Sunday during that touchdown drive late in the third… Only throws the ball 5-7 yards down field, won’t take shots down the field & inexplicably abandons the run too early. Minnesota has one of the worst rushing defenses in the league & we run the ball 9 times, are you kidding me?
      And the icing on the cake when it comes to Callahan… 1 catch for 8 yards between dez, Williams and Witten @ the half vs the Saints Sunday night. That’s absolutely disgusting and inexcusable. And please don’t tell me that the Saints have this great defense either. Callahan doesn’t dictate the game on offense, he reacts to what the defense is doing. Simply put, Callahan is a play not to lose gam ccaller. And to me, it’s clear Callahan doesn’t trust Romo, that’s clear. And we saw that at the end of the Detroit game. And if someone is going to say, well what about the Vikings game? Seriously? He threw an 8 yard in rout to dez who ran for 30 yac.
      There’smno right on wrong answer with what’s wrong with this team, because nooone knows. But I do know that Garrett, Callahan and Kiffin should not be the coaches leading this team, nor should Romo be our quarterback. And saying Jerry too, well that’s not an option, he’s not stepping down.
      This team needs a true number 2 receiver, a game changing back, sproles, Lynch, McCoy or Charles. A guy who can take over a game, make plays out of the back field by catching the ball & gaining 8-12 yards and keep our defense off the field to stay fresh.
      And our biggest issue, it’s time to get rid of some players who are just taking up roster spots, free up space, build a younger, faster defense through the draft and get our cap back to normal. Until any of this happens, we’re just an 8-8 football team who makes the most money in the NFL.

      • John

        Ha! That’s terrific. Reading that is like getting a peek inside Jerry’s most trusted circle of advisers: “Wow, Mr. Jones. Just look at the talent you have accumulated as GM. Every bit as impressive as the Broncos! Why are we .500 again, you ask? Uh, must be the coaching staff is letting you down…”

        • Jimmy D

          If you want the short version, Romo.
          If you want the long version, Tony Romo.
          And as I’ve said in previous comments, you give Peyton, Brady, Rodgers, Breese our offensive weapons, they’re not a 5-5 team.
          And the time I checked, teams who apparently have more talent than we do, Atlanta, the Giants & Washington are all below us. Just sayin

          • ctcowboy1968

            The Giants ABSOLUTELY don’t have more talent then the Boys. That’s why they are in last place which I predicted last summer. I live up here and have to put up with all their fans nonsense. I am inudated with info on the Giants via the media. I knew with the FA losses and injuries that they would suck.
            No QB would do well in Dallas because there is no OL! Each of the QBs listed above has a very good OL which gives them plenty of time to stand still and pass. Each of those teams has made OL a priority. Only Rogers is mobile. The others stand like statues.
            The entire NFC East is the same. Lousy D and reliant on O.

          • Jimmy D

            I’m not saying the Giants do. I’m saying that’s what was said during pre season

          • Jimmy D

            Actually, Romo is 13th in league in sacks against, tied with Eli. Brady, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Andy Daulton have all been sacked more than Romo. And Ben is second in the league. And he just threw for 400 yards against the Patriots. The difference between all those teams & Dallas is the running game, bottom line.
            I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again… People can keep saying that this is a qb to receiver game. But if you can’t run the ball or play defense/get off the field on 3rd downs, you cannot win in this game.
            And if you think that if Brady, Cam, Wilson or Luck was our qb and we’d still b 5-5, you’re crazy.

          • John

            If you’re gonna give Peyton, Brady and Brees our weapons, you gotta give ‘em our O Line, too. Great blocking is more important to the passing attack than weapons. NFL games are won by pressuring the opposing quarterback and protecting your own, and the Cowboys are average to below average at both. Hence the record.

          • Jimmy D

            I am. I’m saying, remove Romo from our team and add Brady, Peyton, Rodgers, Breese to this team and there’s no way we are 5-5. Reason being, they all see the field before the play. They adjust to what the defense gives them, they know how to audible in and out of the right calls based on coverages. And more importantly, they would all have the trust of Garrett and Callahan. I, Peyton would eat up opposing defenses with his short to intermediate passes to Beasley & Witten, which would in turn open up single coverage with dez & Williams. Plus, Peyton would insist on using Harris more on offense and Escobar or Hannah.
            Brady, have you seen the guys he’s had to throw the ball to this year? No gronk, amendola or Vereen for weeks. Yet Brady still finds ways to win games. Breese, he would decimate defenses with Witten and have a field day with dez. He has no problem throwing the ball to any of his receivers who are being double covered and would absolutely utilize whatever running back is in the game, in the passing game, ala sproles. And Rodgers, Omg. He has absolutely no fear, is one of the greatest pure passers this games ever seen and always finds the open receiver, due to his field vision. People are acting as if we have the worst offensive line in football, that’s just not the case. Our issue is simple, we do not have any balance on offense, we do not run the ball. And Romo is simply not good enough, week in and week out to win games on his own by throwing the football all the time. We all talk about how we could have or even should have won the kc and Detroit game, very true. But bad play calling, lack of a running game killed us in both. And to be fair, the same could be said for the Minnesota game. Romo threw the ball 51 times for 314 yards and we ran the ball 9 times against one of the worst rush defenses in the league. And after Romo threw the pick, which should have ended the game. Minnesota, needing 1 first down to end the game, threw the ball instead of using Peterson to end it.
            So, there is no one who is going to tell me, if we have the qb’s I mentioned above that we are only 5-5, that’s simply not true.
            And the biggest thing Brady, Peyton, Rodgers and Breese all possess that Romo doesn’t, they all get rid of the ball quickly. Always have defenses on their heels. Romo holds onto the ball too long and has become very gun shy.

          • Jimmy D

            Winning games in the NFL are these: kill the quarterback, stop the run, create turnovers, get off the field on third downs and running the football.
            And if you are the HC of a team whose game plan every week is to throw the football, yet it’s not working. Wouldn’t you go to your OC and insist, actually demand more balance in the offense?
            Dallas has ran the ball over 20 times in a game 4 times this season. Highest was 34 against the Rams & lowest was 9 against the Vikings. We avg 18 rushing attempts per game, that’s absolutely unacceptable.
            And if you look at the 2 best teams in the league, Kansas City & Seattle, they both run the ball & play defense. Now, trust me, I am in no way comparing our defense to there’s, that’s an insult to both those teams.
            But running the ball and being able to get that 3rd & 3 on the ground will absolutely help our defense. And our defense needs all the help it can get.
            It just doesn’t make any sense to me that you would continue to try the same offensive game plan of getting into shootouts with teams and putting our already horrific defense back on the field quicker than they need to be.
            Our last 6 games are against NY, Oakland, Chicago, Greenbay, Washington and Philadelphia. If we do not have a more balanced offense, we will go 2-4, 3-3 in those games & probably miss the playoffs again.

      • ctcowboy1968

        All valid points. I agree. But look at the “talent” that you listed. Not a single OL. It all starts there. Holes for the run game, time for Tony to throw long passess, ball control. Tyron and Fred are the only ones that perform. Free is better this year. Berny sucks. I had a lot of hope for Leary. Maybe he will come around. I would not include Miles or Murray as talent. They are injured to much and Murray’s running is compromised by the poor OL. Escobar is a non factor and should not have been drafted. Warford was the way to go.
        All the coaches but Marinelli and the special teams coach need to go. JG is the one playing not to lose. Maybe he is satisfied with losing as long as he isn’t the one screwing up.

        • Jimmy D

          Agreed. The ol not having talent is definitely a major factor for our lack of offensive production.
          And the statement you made that I couldn’t agree more with is about Garrett. He’s been a, play not to lose guy since he was our OC, still is.
          The one thing I’m kinda stuck in between with is where to begin. Meaning, Romo will be 34 next year. And this defense needs an overhaul, an injection of youth, speed rushers & pardon the negative word, but killers. Guys who just want to kill the quarterback. So do you look to keep the same offensive line with a Romo who definitely looks like he’s regressing & rebuild the defense, or keep the same ol and continue to try & add pieces to our defense & hope it works and we stay healthy?

          • ctcowboy1968

            I have been writing for years that our D doesn’t tackle hard. Put wood to the other team. No one is afraid of playing Dallas. There is no fear. The Cowboy D would rather spin a player down than bust them in half. When the other O has no fear then they can play full out with no worries. We need young, fast, agressive and angry D players.
            Romo is NOT worth $20 million a year. Another JJ cap mistake. Since we have no FA cash, the future is drafting DL and OL. No more sizzle. Mean lineman. For awhile the rest is in place.

          • Jimmy D

            I would definitely go for that. And there is no doubt about other teams not fearing us. People slap us in the mouth, on both sides of the ball and we do nothing about it anymore.

  • JTracker

    Sure. What this tell me is that the lack of preparation by the players reflect on the COACHES. Remember the old saying, you play like you practice or practice makes perfect etc. Now I do have issues with the players not executing like they should but come on man. Coaches have to take greater responsibility for the production on the field. And I hate that after a loss the hc comes out and basically says, yea we need to get better…wtf!

  • ed

    Great article. The game is about running, blocking, throwing, catching. What went down is simple. The Dude’s D made an all out effort to shut down Dez. That should have left them vulnerable but Tony’s other recievers did not show the ABILITY to beat the one on one coverage. At least they couldn’t beat it in the time allowed by the O line.