Jason Garrett agrees: Cowboys have got to run the ball

Posted Wednesday, Sep. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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galloway In the privacy of his Valley Ranch office this week, I’m wondering if a big grin from Jason Garrett doesn’t continually light up the room.

It’s not like Red J would be laughing at anyone in particular, unless it’s those of us in the media. But he could certainly be getting a hoot out of “the situation.”

Run the ball, right? Got to run the bleeping ball. Should have done it last week. Got to do it this week. Got to do it every NFL week that follows.

And yes, this week, after the gut-kick loss in Kansas City, and even the week before after the Dallas Cowboys’ win over the Giants, Garrett has been in total agreement.

The media asks, “What about the run game?”

Jason’s answer: “Got to run the ball.”

Except, of course, the Cowboys haven’t run the ball consistently and/or successfully in years. There was a time, with DeMarco Murray, when the ground game had its 100-yard rushing moments, but it was a while back.

Even if you don’t run the ball well consistently and/or successfully, is the answer to keep doing what you don’t do well consistently and/or successfully?

Got to run the ball.

Garrett, obviously, took the heat for years, as offensive coordinator then as head coach/play-caller, for the lack of a run game.

But then came the Jerry Jones ordered off-season changes.

Bill Callahan in the coaching seat upstairs and Tony Romo in the hot seat on the field, they are now the twin offensive masterminds.

The best thing that could have happened for Garrett did happen. Mr. Jones “advised” him to be the walk-around head coach.

Got to run the ball, right?

“Sure do,” answers Garrett.

Jason gets to do the second-guessing just like the rest of us.

I’d get a good private laugh out of this, although Garrett is not as sinister as, oh, say, me.

From a national standpoint, it also wasn’t Garrett who Fox TV’s Terry Bradshaw was lighting up on the postgame show Sunday for the Cowboys’ lack of offense.

Come on down, Coach Callahan.

Referring to Callahan’s previous head-coaching/play-calling stint with the Raiders, Bradshaw barked after the KC loss, “Same old weak stuff we saw in Oakland. It drives me up a wall, 5-yard out routes, 5-yard drag routes. You have to take chances. You can’t keep running this short, dinky offense.”

Well, that’s not entirely fair, but Terry, of course, has a point.

We don’t know, and maybe will never know, how much of this is on Romo changing the Callahan call at the line of scrimmage. Tony now has immense power to be the thinking quarterback, the O.C. on the field.

The run plays, or lack of run plays, and the check down routes, could be as much a product of Romo as Callahan. Or, in fairness, they could be a product of the situation.

As a former NFL coaching friend of mine likes to say, “The other guys are also on scholarship. Sometimes they don’t allow you to do what you want to do, so you end up with something else, good or bad.”

But yes, we all agree if the Cowboys could run the ball even somewhat effectively, it would be of great assistance to the offense and to Romo.

If it’s not working, however, how much is too much when it comes to line plunges?

Murray, for one thing, is starting to draw some heat as the running back. Doesn’t break tackles. Doesn’t fit in a zone running scheme. His game is hitting the hole fast between the tackles, if there is a hole. Murray needs a fullback. That’s a new one for this week. Get a fullback.

(By the way, follow that lack of a fullback question closely. Exactly who at Valley Ranch made the decision to go without a fullback in this offense. Was that a coach? Romo? Or higher up, if you know what I mean?)

Then again, maybe you’ve wondered, how good is the offensive line? Great question.

The rookie center, Travis Frederick, had a real rough one in Kansas City. But Brian Waters is now ready to play guard, and that will be a huge upgrade on one side of Frederick. Otherwise, the offensive line, even Doug Free, has graded out OK the first two weeks.

Yet, that grade has mainly come in pass protection.

Running the ball, however, has been on a limited basis with limited, if any, success.

Got to run the ball, right?

Actually, no. At least not to win that game in Kansas City.

That game could have been won if Romo had felt the backside pressure on a scramble, and NOT fumbled the football. That game could have been won if running back Lance Dunbar doesn’t lose a fumble on a nice gain after a pass completion.

That game could have been won if Dez Bryant, making showtime catches all day, hadn’t flat dropped the touchdown bomb in the fourth quarter. Of if a zebra hadn’t flagged Dez for a cheap — and wrong — offensive pass interference, wiping out a long catch and run.

Frankly, a much bigger issue in KC than the run game is Dez was targeted “only” 13 times by Romo. Thirteen is a bunch.

But as much as the Chiefs were single-covering Bryant, there should have been 25 throws his way. Seriously.

Why wasn’t Callahan on Romo’s butt about not going repeatedly to Dez? Why wasn’t Romo thinking it himself?

Red J, yes, he agreed this week. Get the ball to Dez.

And then in the privacy of his office, maybe Garrett laughed his butt off.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw

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