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Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Key Stat: Red zone offense needs TD boost

By Jean-Jacques Taylor

The Dallas Cowboys kicked way too many field goals once they moved inside the 20 last season. Jason Garrett's offense scored a touchdown only 25 times in 49 red zone possessions

That's not close to being good enough.

Here's some perspective: New England scored touchdowns on 49 of 70 red zone possessions for a league-leading 70 percent conversion rate. And get this, the pass-happy Patriots scored a league-high 25 rushing touchdowns inside the red zone.

Garrett's simple remedy for improving the Cowboys' red zone efficiency, which tied for 22nd last season: Running the ball better.

Dallas scored only eight rushing touchdowns in the red zone, one of 13 teams that failed to hit double digits. Playoff teams averaged 14 rushing touchdowns in the red zone.

Run the ball better and you take pressure off Tony Romo.

"We have to run the ball better. That's what we have to do," Garrett said. "We simply have to run it better and we'll run it more. You get favorable coverage mismatches, when you run it well. When we evaluated our team last year, the biggest issue in the red zone was minus plays and penalties. We were digging out of a hole way too much.

"When you're on your heels because you can't run it, or you have minus plays as the result of penalties, you're playing into their hands because there's not a lot of space to throw it down there."