Tablet Sports

Road atmosphere at home games troubling to Cowboys

It’s been a troubling trend so far this season. It feels as though the Cowboys’ home games have been on the road, and the road games have been at home.

And the players are certainly hearing the opposing teams’ crowd at AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys’ offense had to go to a silent count during Sunday’s game against the Texans, something that didn’t sit too well with quarterback Tony Romo or tight end Jason Witten.

Each discussed the atmosphere unprompted during postgame news conferences and it remained a talking point Monday.

“We’ve had interesting home games this year,” coach Jason Garrett said. “One of the things we have to do as a team is we have to give our fans reason to cheer. There are a lot of Cowboys fans there yesterday. When we do things the right way and give our fans reason to cheer and be loud, typically those things work out well for us.”

In other words, only taking a 3-0 lead into halftime doesn’t exactly rev up the fan base, nor does blowing a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys also battle the issue that Arlington is a relatively easy place for opposing fans to travel to, as well as the stadium remaining a must-see.

But there’s no question the hometown fans are fired up about the 4-1 start. Witten got a rousing ovation when he spoke at a charity event Monday in Fort Worth.

“We ensure you we’re going to give everything we’ve got, and it should be an exciting 3-4 months coming up,” Witten said.

Contract chatter

DeMarco Murray is off to a start that puts him in rare company with Hall of Famers. Rolando McClain has made his presence felt on defense, as he shows the form that made him the eighth overall pick.

Both are also set to hit free agency after the season. If the Cowboys have their way, though, each will eventually be locked up for years to come, executive vice president Stephen Jones said on his KRLD-FM radio show.

“DeMarco Murray is one of those guys that we want to keep around,” Jones said. “Not only is he a good football player, but better than that, he’s a top-notch individual.”

As far as McClain, Jones is enamored with the idea of pairing him Sean Lee, who is sidelined this season with an ACL injury. McClain has certainly proved to be a difference-maker, although he’s dealt with a handful of injuries, including re-injuring his groin on Sunday.

“I certainly see a situation where we’re going to be trying to sign [McClain] to a long-term contract and keep him here with the Dallas Cowboys,” Jones said.

More on Murray

Garrett said the Cowboys have to be mindful of Murray’s carries the rest of the season. At this point, Murray is on pace to tie Larry Johnson’s NFL record with 416 carries.

Johnson did it in 2006 as a 27-year-old back with the Chiefs, and never had another 1,000-yard rushing season. So if the Cowboys are committed to sticking with Murray in the future, as Jones suggested, they’ll have to be cautious with his carries.

If they feel he’ll bolt after the season, however, they could run him into the ground and let his next team deal with the after-effects.

“We have to be mindful of his carries,” Garrett said. “We’ve got to make sure we take care of him over the course of the season, but we’d do that with any player.”