Following the Dallas Cowboys‘ frustrating loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2, every headline from Texarkana to El Paso read virtually the same thing: the Cowboys’ running game was terrible and it cost them the game. The first part of that statement holds some merit, but most knee-jerk reactions to Dallas’ one-point loss overlooked the primary problem for America’s Team.
All offseason, everyone heard about the Cowboys’ offense getting a makeover from a philosophy standpoint; Bill Callahan calling the plays was supposed to make the offense more balanced and Tony Romo being more involved in the game-planning and play-calling was supposed to really open things up. Well, through two games in 2013, things are just as bad as they were when Jason Garrett was pretending to be an NFL play-caller, if not worse.
Against the New York Giants in Week 1, DeMarco Murray had exactly 20 carries and the Cowboys improved to 9-0 in games that saw Dallas’ young running back tote the ball at least that many times. That stat overrode the fact Romo had 49 pass attempts, but Murray only ran the ball 12 times against Kansas City and the Cowboys fell to 7-16 in games that saw Romo drop back at least 40 times.
The numbers don’t lie, folks; the Cowboys’ offense is as unbalanced as it could possibly be, but that’s not the fault of Murray, the offensive line or any other player on Dallas’ roster involved in the running game. Callahan and Romo equally deserve 50 percent of the blame at this point.
On six different third-down plays against the Chiefs that required at least five yards for the first down, the Cowboys ran pass plays that were at least four yards short of the marker. It wasn’t bad pass protection or great coverage by Kansas City’s defense that caused the missed conversions — it was horrific play-calling. The first three times it was Callahan’s fault; the Cowboys’ new-play caller dialed up plays that saw all of Dallas’ receivers run routes that ended before the line to gain. The latter three times, Romo changed the play at the line of scrimmage and it resulted in a one-yard gain, a two-yard gain and a horribly thrown ball to Miles Austin that fell incomplete seven yards short of the marker.
Callahan’s play-calling has been just as bad as Garrett’s through two games this year and one has to think Dallas’ clueless head coach has at least a little something to do with it. But that doesn’t override the fact Callahan is apparently just closing his eyes and picking a pass play at random on third down. It also doesn’t change the fact Romo did the same thing when he called audibles at the line and it cost the Cowboys greatly: they had three points and two turnovers on their final 10 drives of the game.
Something has to change in Dallas, and fast. The balanced offense Garrett is suddenly preaching has been the Cowboys’ Achilles heel for years and it’s still just as big of a problem now as it’s ever been. If Garrett is still influencing the play-calling (as it seems he is), that has to stop. This is the one time Jerry Jones needs to step in and say something as sacrilegious as it is to say that.
On the flip side, if Callahan has truly lost his touch as a play-caller, then those duties need to be given to someone else. And finally, if Romo can’t handle this “new role” then he needs to have those responsibilities stripped. He can no longer blame his woes on a bad defense or offensive line because those units are doing their jobs so far in 2013. Accountability has always been an issue for the Cowboys and there will literally be no one to blame but the team’s coaches and quarterback if this season ends with another 8-8 record for Dallas.