As I promised earlier in the week, here is my prescription for fixing the Dallas Cowboys. I threw out ideas I thought were unworkable (like importing the Pittsburgh Steelers defense) or ideas that just weren't going to happen (like firing "insert any coach's name here.") I actually tried to concentrate on things that I thought were doable in a short time-frame and that would make a difference on the field.
Part I is for the offense, I'll follow up with the defense later.
- Run, Tony, Run - I remember a time when Tony Romo used his wheels to frustrate a defense. Nothing demoralizes a defense more on a third down than to have a great pass rush, great coverage of the receivers, only to have the QB scoot up the middle and get the first down. With the way our offensive line is blocking right now, this is not only a way to get first downs; it's pretty much a survival guide. Romo has spent too much time throwing off-balance, throwing before he's ready and fumbling the football after getting smacked around. So Tony, if you are under siege and see a nice patch of green grass in front of you that is so inviting it could be a public park on a beautiful spring day, you have permission to tuck the ball and frolic your way to a first down. (Frolic? What the hell, the word frolic has no business on a football blog.) Just don't forget to slide!
- Get rid of the walking wounded - Note to Dallas coaches, the NFL actually let's you substitute players freely during a game - it's not like baseball. So if Flozell Adams is injured and continues to usher defensive players into Romo's grill, put Doug Free in the game and see what he can do. If he can't get the job done, you can always go back to Flozell. You could also think about chipping guys regularly on that side of the line with a TE or a RB. And no, don't think of putting Pat McQuistan in there, that's just not a good idea. I've seen the kid at training camp.
- Quit making the dancing bears dance - We have a massive offensive line that is getting beat by speed on the defense. I noticed on quite a few plays against teams like the Giants and the Cardinals that we are trying to pull linemen and we're getting beat to the spot, or whoever is supposed to block down in the vacated hole is too slow to get there. Let's try some conventional straight-ahead blocking with a fullback leading the way. I know we can't re-write the playbook at this point in the season and you can't always get away with a mano-a-mano blocking scheme, but let's quit trying to be cute all the time. Let's use the bears to maul the defense instead of dancing our way through. On third and two, run an ISO play and blow the defense off the line.
- They can't hit him if they can't find him - Let's move the pocket once in a while. We used to run the bootleg pass to the TE a few times a game. I think I've seen it once in recent games, Brooks Bollinger ran it and completed the pass last week. Romo throws an excellent pass on the move; roll him out, do some sprint-out passes, use the bootleg pass. Make the defense think twice instead of just rushing to a spot in the pocket.
- Spread ‘em - We have a ton of weapons in the passing game. If you want to go to the pass, flood the field with four or five of those weapons and make the defense bring on their third, fourth or even fifth CB, or get some mismatches like El Gato on a linebacker. Now, I know you're thinking what the heck am I talking about, our line can't protect the QB as it is and you want to spread the field? Well, we can't get the job done by keeping TE's and RB's in to block anyway, so let's utilize a quick passing game to hurt them. If a defense can cover all those weapons, they deserve to win. I'm not suggesting we do this all the time, but give it a shot once in a while, if it works, do it some more.
- Two is better than one - Now that we're getting Felix Jones back, get him on the field and leave Marion Barber in the game. Barber is rough-and-tumble enough to be a semi-fullback so utilize them both in the game. Make a defense have to think about stopping the run between the tackles and on the edges. Give them fits with the running game. Again, this isn't something you can do all the time, but you could certainly run 5-10 plays in a formation like that. We really need to start mixing things up on the offense, teams seem to be catching on to what we're doing. In fact, I see them calling out the play on defense just by looking at the formation. Earn that cash Jason Garrett, put some spice into this offense.
OK, there you go. I want to make it clear I'm not suggesting we do all these things all the time. Different defenses offer different problems and different opportunities. Some of these could work one week but not so much another week. Still, we need some new ideas on this team. Let's try something different things.