Despite making several big personnel and scheme changes this offseason, the Dallas Cowboys still have the same serious problem with offensive play-calling, and it was evident in their first two games. Dallas is very capable of running the ball effectively, which is what successful NFL teams do, but the team simply refuses to do that. This pass-happy approach is going to doom the Cowboys in Week 3 against a St. Louis Rams secondary that’s been shredded through two weeks of play.
At first, that seems like an odd statement, especially considering Carson Palmer and Matt Ryan combined for 700 yards and four touchdowns against the Rams in Weeks 1 and 2. But when you consider how unbalanced the Cowboys’ offense is, Tony Romo will likely throw 60 passes against the Rams, which won’t end well for Dallas.
St. Louis may have given up a truckload of passing yards to the Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons, but the Rams are 1-1 and only lost to their latter opponent by seven points in a shootout. The thing the Cardinals and Falcons both failed to do was run the ball against St. Louis, which would have kept the Rams’ offense off the field while the offenses of Arizona and Atlanta continued to pile up points.
It’s a very simple formula that stems from the ancient Chinese proverb “the best defense is a good offense”. Okay, that’s not really a Chinese proverb and it sure as heck will spell disaster for the Cowboys, who will take that as “we need to turn Romo loose against the Rams”.
Romo is going to throw for a ton of yards against the Rams, regardless of whether he throws the ball 20 times, 40 times or 60 times because he’ll either exploit St. Louis’ defense through solid play-calling (highly unlikely) or he’ll simply rack up yards due to all the attempts (much more likey). But that won’t equal a big Dallas lead unless DeMarco Murray and the other Cowboys running backs are allowed to do their thing. Running the ball worked out well for Dallas the last time the Rams came to town — Murray broke Emmitt Smith‘s franchise single-game rushing record with 253 yards and the Cowboys rolled to an easy win. Romo’s stat line in that game: 14 of 25 for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
All this talk of the Cowboys’ running game being the team’s Achilles heel is ignorant. Bill Callahan actually has to call running plays, Jason Garrett has to stop overriding them and Romo has to stop changing them at the line of scrimmage for the running game to even exist. Until Dallas actually commits to the running game instead of just talking about it, the team won’t win more than eight games in a season. And when poor secondaries like the Rams come to town, that trigger-happy approach will only get worse because if the Cowboys accidentally win these types of games against overrated teams, Callahan, Garrett and Romo will continue to think this moronic style of play-calling is justified.