If you’re familiar with the Dallas Cowboys, this is going to seem like beating a dead horse. When we say “familiar” with the Cowboys, that doesn’t just mean you’re a fake fan. That means you can name at least 30 players on their roster and your only Dallas shirt doesn’t have a Nike swoosh on it. The previously mentioned repeated topic is the Cowboys’ balance between run and pass on offense. The balance is usually not good and that falls on the shoulders of Cowboys head coach and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
Yes, Bill Callahan owns the title of Cowboys offensive coordinator, but he doesn’t call the offensive plays, which means he’s not the offensive coordinator, regardless of what Cowboys clueless owner and general manager Jerry Jones says. As an offensive play-caller, Garrett is about as consistent as the weather in East Texas. If you’re not familiar with the area, folks who live there often say “if you don’t like the weather here, wait five minutes and it will change.”
Since being promoted to head coach midway through the 2010 NFL season, Garrett’s track record correlates directly with his play-calling. He has a 16-14 record, but the Cowboys have seemed like a .500 team at best, so that’s not really accurate. When Garrett has called 30 or more pass plays as the head coach, the Cowboys are 9-12. That seems about right. However, the next two stats make everything crystal clear.
The Cowboys are 0-6 when Garrett has called 40 or more passes. During games in which one player received at least 20 carries, Dallas is 8-0 under Garrett. Does anybody else see a ridiculously easy correlation here?
Of those eight wins, Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray was the “one player” in six of them while Felix Jones was the primary ball carrier in the other two. Murray will likely miss his second straight game this week when Dallas welcomes the New York Giants to town, but that doesn’t mean Garrett needs to call over 40 pass attempts.
Contrary to popular belief, the Cowboys have one of the best stables of running backs in the NFL. Even with Murray out, Jones has capable help in second-year pro Phillip Tanner and undrafted rookie Lance Dunbar. Each of these players has proven his worth in both the preseason and regular season but Garrett, a former Cowboys quarterback, tends to lean on the pass in general, but especially when Murray isn’t at full strength.
That is what hurts Dallas. The win-loss ratio that’s directly related to Garrett’s play-calling should be enough for a guy with a Princeton education to figure out. Yes, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo can sling it with the best of them when he’s hot, but he is so much more effective when Garrett sets up the pass by running the ball.
Everyone keeps talking about how the Cowboys could be so good if they would play like they did in a Week 1 victory over the Giants. Do you know what happened in that game? You guessed it! Murray had 20 carries for 131 yards and Romo threw the ball only 29 times, completing 22 for 307 yards and three touchdowns.
Garrett is going to have to control that itchy trigger finger of his if the Cowboys are to have any hopes of ending the Giants’ winning streak at Cowboys Stadium. Even without Murray, he has to use Jones, Tanner and Dunbar to set up the pass. It worked to perfection in Week 1 and it will work again if Garrett can be disciplined as a play-caller, something he’s never been able to master.