Well, Dallas is currently 20th in the league in red zone opportunities at 3.0 per game. Yes, more yards and better third-down conversion percentages would improve that. Last year with Garrett calling the plays and an offense that moved the ball “quite well,” the team averaged 3.1 RZOs per game; the year before it was 3.2.
Those were the days, eh?
Yes, the Cowboys offense has issues. Third down conversions is a big one (last year they ranked fifth at 43.9 percent; this year they rank 30th at 32.8 percent). But the answer isn’t an old face peeking out from behind the Denny’s menu, to steal a line from Colin Cowherd. The solution is better execution on the field by the players.
Forget the stats for a moment. What did your eyes tell you, watching that New Orleans game? Anyone else notice how open the Saints receivers were? How rarely Drew Brees had to thread a needle to complete a pass? Throwing for 400 yards is pretty easy for an NFL-quality quarterback when on every dropback he has three targets with two yards of separation on the defenders.
Compare that to what we saw of the Cowboys offense. Romo threw the ball just 24 times, and the Saints defense posted a ridiculous eight pass deflections. Think of the completion to Dez Bryant on a ball that had to be perfectly placed over one defender and under another. Or the third-down incompletion to Cole Beasley in the first half: Romo’s pass wasn’t bad, but Beasley didn’t have enough separation on the defender. The pass had to be perfect to be caught, so instead it was deflected.
My eyes tell me Romo throws more contested passes than he should have to. Either the receivers aren’t winning on their routes, the line isn’t winning on their blocks, or Romo is making the wrong reads and missing the open man.
Notice the common thread: The problem is execution, not play calling. Stop all the noise about how this offensive roster is loaded with talent – what do your eyes tell you? That the line can’t sustain blocks, the receivers can’t get separation, and the quarterback is gunshy.
If the players can execute better these next six games, then this team can still make a run. These Cowboys have won five games thus far on the strength of excellent special teams play, a turnover-happy defense, and a reliable red zone offense. Teams have won championships with little more. Just gotta execute.