The Dallas Cowboys made headlines recently by giving play calling duties to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan. I guess no news is big news in the dead zone of the NFL off-season.
The reason I say this is pretty obvious to anyone who has been watching the Cowboys for the past few seasons. As long as the issue of the pitiful offensive line play continues for Dallas, they don’t have much chance to improve no matter who is holding the headset. That being said, giving someone else a shot certainly can’t hurt in light of some of the strange decisions that have come from the Cowboys sidelines since Jason Garrett took the helm.
Anyone who has read my little rant on a regular basis knows the boo-b00 that bugs me the most is the icing of our own kicker in Arizona that sent the Cowboys home for the winter and the New York Giants onward to Super Bowl glory.
But I’m not bitter…really.
In the 2012 campaign, the head-scratcher that stands out most for me came in the sixth game of the season against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. The Cowboys had outplayed Baltimore for most of the game and, with 22 seconds on the clock, were on the verge of upset making field goal range. With a timeout remaining, instead of trying to get kicker Dan Bailey a few precious yards closer, Dallas chose to stand pat. The result was a 51-yarder that was no good with six seconds remaining. In retrospect, that game could have been huge for the ‘Boys. Such a win would have undoubtedly provided a big confidence builder. Most importantly, the way the season played out, it would have broken the tie that the Cowboys found themselves in with the Washington Redskins for the NFC East title in that fateful finale at FedEx Field. We all know how that bit of drama panned out.
A quick look at the Cowboys stats for 2012 shows that the offensive line’s inability to block effectively had major consequences for Dallas. The Cowboys were 31st in rushing and had second to the lowest rushing attempts in the league. On the reverse side, they attempted the third most passes of NFL teams in the season. Tony Romo was sacked a grand total of 36 times in 2012. When looking at his tally of 19 interceptions for the season, one has to wonder how many of those came as he was running for his life. All these sad stats can be traced back to the play of the big boys up front.
Injuries were certainly a factor in the poor offensive line performance of this past campaign. However, the decision to keep under achiever Doug Free, even with a reduced salary, is odd at best. The Cowboys also largely ignored their offensive line issues in free agency and the draft, while bringing in even more skill players. At this writing, Dallas had a stable of six tight ends on their roster. Could it be that the Cowboys are planning to use some two and three tight end sets to provide extra blocking help? The addition of veteran tight end Dante Rosario gives a hint in that direction. Rosario has played both halfback and fullback in the past and that could mean more help in keeping defenders out of the backfield.
Using multiple tight end sets has the potential to keep the defense guessing. Although it might decrease quick strike opportunities, using tight ends, especially in red zone situations, could offset bad line play by adding more short pass threats. That could also result in a more successful running game that could allow the Cowboys to burn clock when they need to, which hasn’t been the case of late.
As the summer grinds slowly but surely toward training camp, we can rest assured that whatever small moves the Cowboys make will translate into
Nov 22, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Bill Callahan (center) with the offensive line during the game against the Washington Redskins during a game on Thanksgiving at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports