Cowboys coaches were not happy with Joseph Randle after he stretched the ball over the pile at the goal line and had it knocked away for what officials initially ruled a fumble. First, they let him know it by yelling at him. Then, they let him know about it by letting him sit the rest of the first half.
“A little bit of a combination,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said when asked whether the running back briefly was benched or sat because of the regular rotation. “CMike [Christine Michael] was going to be the short-yardage runner in the game, in regular short-yardage situations down on the field. Darren [McFadden] was going to get his touches in the series he was going to work after that. But Joe got some chances in the second half as well.”
The Cowboys had warned Randle about reaching the ball across the plane after he did it on a 1-yard touchdown run against the Falcons a week ago. After he did it again Sunday in the loss to the Saints, Randle drew the ire of coaches.
Offensive line coach Frank Pollack, running backs coach Gary Brown and Garrett all had a heated exchange with Randle.
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The ruling on the field was a fumble that the Saints recovered with 13:35 left in the second quarter. Replay overturned it and gave Randle his fourth touchdown of the season.
“Sometimes what happens with players is they revert back to the things that they have done in the past, and some things that are just natural and instinctive for them to do,” Garrett said. “Joe has done that throughout his career, and that’s something that when he runs those inside plays down at the goal line, he just naturally likes to do that. We’ve talked about it. We’ve talked about it in the past. And sometimes when guys are in those situations, when it feels bottled up to them, they feel that’s their only answer.
“A couple weeks in a row he has done that. We do not want him to do that in those situations, particularly expose the football. Against Atlanta, the ball was jarred loose a little bit. We got lucky there. We got lucky again last night. That’s the reason for our approach as a coaching staff. We believe we can get that rectified.”
Randle sounded defiant after the game, saying, “Six points!” when asked about the play. He likely will hear about it from coaches again this week.
“Guys are competitive. Guys want to win,” Garrett said. “Sometimes that happens. I think for the most part he understands why we feel that way about that. The ball coming out is really the reason as much as anything else. Hopefully, as we go forward he’s able to handle that coaching and apply it to his play.”
Randle finished with a team-high 11 carries for 26 yards, with four touches and 1 yard coming in the second half when he returned to the game. The third-year back already has a career-high in carries with 59 and has rushed for 229 yards.