- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas -- The conventional wisdom was that the Dallas Cowboys would have a renewed commitment to the running game with offensive line guru Bill Callahan taking over the play-calling duties.
That wasn’t the case in Week 1, prompting head coach Jason Garrett to call for a more balanced offensive attack.
The Cowboys ran 51 pass plays, including two sacks, and only 21 running plays despite never trailing in the win over the New York Giants. (A knee-down and fumbled snaps weren’t counted in either category.) In other words, they ran the ball 29 percent of the time.
By comparison, the Cowboys ran the ball 34 percent of the time with pass-happy Garrett calling plays last season, when their 355 rushing attempts were the second-fewest in the league.
“We’d like to be more balanced,” Garrett said Monday. “I thought Bill did a really good job in the ballgame calling plays and giving us a chance to move the football, but we would like to be a more balanced football team.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about, ‘OK we get a stat sheet and you want it to be 30 runs, 30 passes.’ That’s not how we look at it. We want to be able to run the ball more and more effectively, particularly at the end of the game when we’re up a couple scores. We need to be able to hand the ball to DeMarco Murray and run the game out. We didn’t do that as well as we need to, and we’ll continue to work on being better at that.”
Callahan has not been available for comment since the season opener.
Murray finished the game with a respectable 86 yards on 20 carries, including five carries for 32 yards in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys did get the ball in Murray’s hands eight more times for 39 yards on short receptions, usually checkdowns that can have the same down-and-distance impact as an effective running game. However, Garrett values the physical tone a traditional running game sets and the opportunities it can present in the play-action passing game.
“We never get caught up in the numbers of things,” Garrett said, noting that the high winning percentage of teams that run the ball frequently is often a chicken-or-egg type of stat. “You want to be balanced, attack them downhill, attack them different ways, and have it all work together.”