IRVING, Texas – So you want to call plays in the NFL?
Try doing it when you can’t run the ball and can barely protect the quarterback. That was Jason Garrett’s dilemma in Sunday’s 23-20 overtime win against Cleveland.
There was simply not a lot of room to run for the running backs, and you can’t blame Tyron Smith’s absence. Smith was in for five running plays before getting hurt and had three minus plays by my count. Jermey Parnell was OK as a replacement but he had two holding penalties, one of which was wiped out because Ed Hochuli decided to give one penalty to Dez Bryant.
Jones’ best runs came in the second half, including a 9-yard gain in the fourth quarter that Garrett never came back to with Jason Witten sealing the edge, Miles Austin blocking in the slot and Doug Free getting to the second level.
For those complaining about the runs out of the end zone late in the fourth quarter, the line and tight ends could get no push and fullback Lawrence Vickers could not help either. Passing in that situation, however, would not have been worse than running it.
This is where Garrett deserves some credit as a play caller: he found something and stuck with it. The stop route worked just about whenever the Cowboys wanted it with Bryant, Austin, Dwayne Harris or Kevin Ogletree running it. They found a little success with it in the second quarter and it just got better in the second half. The Browns did not have an answer or chose not to look for one.
The stubborn thing to do would have been to continue to run and get nothing but a headache.
Garrett didn’t do that Sunday but it’s not an easy way to make a living.