Sep 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett leads his team down the tunnel prior to the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Garrett on Cowboys Offense: Big Men Attack

At press conferences Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett can at times seem more Princeton than Plano, using words like “patina,” which some reporters have trouble spelling. But when recently talking about his offensive convictions, the message was simple and plain: Attack the defense and push the other team around with your big men.

“We believe that the game is won up front,” Garrett told reporters Friday. “We believe that it’s important to get the ball to your playmakers. We believe it’s important to put the players that you have in the best position for them to be successful.”

“It’s important for us to have convictions, things you believe in, things that have been good for you for a long time.”

How do you get the ball to your playmakers? Give your quarterback time to do so. How do you best position players for success? Keep them on their feet and give them massive holes to run through. It all comes back to the big fellas.

It’s a conviction that has influenced the Cowboys’ draft strategy since 2011, when Garrett became a principal in the Dallas war room, leading to three first-rounders on the offensive line. It is likely the conviction that informed the team’s decision to retain supposedly disgruntled offensive line coach Bill Callahan.

Callahan’s demotion this offseason suggests the team was tepid about his performance as coordinator, despite scoring the fifth most points in the league last year. It was reported that Callahan, under contract through 2014, was denied his request to interview with other teams.

Folks wondered why Dallas didn’t let Callahan go, but the answer was likely as simple as Jason Garrett’s offensive conviction No. 1: We believe that the game is won up front. Whatever other ambitions Callahan may harbor, he’s a good man to have coaching your line.

“He’s just a great coach,” Garrett said. “I like to go over to his side of the field when he’s working drills, and you can see the guys get better before your eyes. The fact that he and (assistant offensive line coach) Frank Pollack have such a good relationship, working with those offensive linemen, I think it’s a great environment.”

Some have suggested the team’s investment in offensive linemen will lead to a deeper commitment to the running game this year. Perhaps that’s true. Garrett and his staff were roundly criticized last season for losses to Detroit and Green Bay, in which they did not protect late leads by running out the clock.

Whether that would have worked or not in those games is debatable. It’s hard to run the ball with 10 defenders in the box, all of whom know you want to run the ball. Three hand offs and a punt wasn’t guaranteeing any victories last year – not with the most porous defense in the league watching from the sidelines.

What’s not debatable is the Cowboys’ conviction of attacking the defense, by passing into a run front, didn’t work against Detroit and Green Bay. Part of that was execution. Twice in the final drive against Green Bay the team ran passing plays that got receivers behind the defense, and quarterback Tony Romo just missed the throws. Good playcalling at its essence is the art of creating such opportunities, but a coach can look pretty foolish when the players don’t execute and the game is lost. Will the team approach those situations differently in 2014? Garrett seems open to it:

“It’s important for us to have convictions – things you believe in, things that have been good for you for a long time,” Garrett said. “I think that’s a really, really important part of life. I think it’s an important part of coaching. Having said that, you have to allow for room to grow, evolve, listen to new ideas, go down maybe a different path, call something a little different maybe than you have in the past, and those are things that we all try to do as we grow as people and grow as coaches.”

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  • ctcowboy1968

    It all starts up front. In the trenches. Draft from the trenches out. Impose our will on the other team. Glad to hear that JG thinks that way. Now he has to act that way.

    • Earl Robertson

      Yea if you have a strong line on both sides of the ball and a good qb you can win a lot of games

  • Michael Davis

    The Coaching staff takes a lot of heat for bad play calling but Romo is the ultimate person who decides what play is run. Now with a O-Line with some serious talent across it, they need to prove to coaches & Romo that they can move the chains on 3rd/4th & shorts.

    • David

      You are dead wrong. If the coach says we are up and need to run the ball and dont check out of the play then you run the FN ball. If anything check to a different run play. But thats not JG philosophy so why would Romo not buy into the run philosophy either.

      • Old Frog

        I think Romo always had the option to check out of the run and pass instead. I doubt he was ever told run no matter what. That might change this year.

        • David

          And a good coach would have taken that away when the RB is averaging over 7 yards a carry and the defense is terrible and needs to stay off of the field. But JG is pass happy coach and will always be that way.

          • Old Frog

            I don’t think you can generalized from the one game you’re citing but even then I believe Jason thought passing was the percentage play given the relative lack of confidence in the running game all season and the fact that the other team was stacking the box because they expected the run. But this is a different year with a different OC and a stronger O line so we’ll see what happens.

          • David

            The bottom line is the majority of every winning SB team had a great defense and a great run game. It has been proven many times teams can win the SB with an average to just good QB. Having Romo put the ball in the air 35 times a game is just not a great strategy most of the time. The chance for error is greater wheather it be Romo with a bad decision or the WR not running the proper route. And lastly I am not generalizing one game. Part of the reason Dallas had one of the worst defenses in the league was because they were on the field constantly because the offense could not work the clock from passing so much. Its no coincidence that two of the top defenses in the league and best teams in the league were in the top 5 in rushing. Those teams were the Niners and Seahawks. They were the two best teams in the league..

          • Old Frog

            I apologize. I thought you were using the Green Bay game to say that JG is inherently a “pass happy” coach. Other than that, I agree that we need to run the ball more and hopefully the addition of Zack Martin will allow us to do that.

          • David

            No worries bro. Its all good I hope they commit to running the ball. It will help protect the defense which I dont believe will be vastly improved unlless players like Mo, JJ and Carter step up and put their big boy pants on lol..

  • David

    How about run the FN football and protect Romo.

    • MercWithaMouth

      What do you think they are trying to do????

      • David

        Are you that naieve or have you just not watched the Cowboys since JG has been the head coach. He his a pass happy coach. Do you not remember the GB game? Ill believe it when I see it when it comes to running the ball.

  • Alfredo Martinez

    When Jason Garrett was named head coach, began to reestructure the offensive line… 5 year later, 3 first round was employed in linemen: Tyron Smith, Travis Freaderick and Zach Martin,,,,Now is the turn of the defensive line,,,, Demarcus Lawrence was graded a late first round grade…..Lawrence was the player who Rod Marinelli really wanted and the front office granted his wish….More and more i like the Garret process to restructure this team,,,,