Monday, January 13, 2014
Cowboys offense not a big problem
By Calvin Watkins
If the Dallas Cowboys do make some coaching changes over the next few weeks, don't be surprised if the offensive staff remains the same.
Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, in his first year as the playcaller, made some questionable decisions with the play calling, but overall the change from Jason Garrett showed some success:
• Quarterback Tony Romo, in 15 games, finished ninth in completion percentage, fifth in touchdowns and 12th in yards. Romo threw for 3,828 yards and most likely would have reached 4,000 yards if he were available for the Philadelphia Eagles game in the regular season finale.
There were nine quarterbacks who threw for at least 3,000 yards in 2013.
• The run game, Callahan's biggest issue, finished 24th in the NFL, but you can't blame lead running back DeMarco Murray. Callahan's inability to use the run game effectively was a main reason.
Yet, when Murray was used, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards in the season despite missing two games with a sprained knee.
• The offensive line had a productive season, the best I've seen in years. The loss of Nate Livings before the start of the season and Brian Waters after a few games played due to injury didn't slow things down.
Give Callahan and assistant line coach Frank Pollack credit for getting the line to protect Romo on a consistent basis and to allow Murray to make plays in the run game. Left tackle Tyron Smith earned a Pro Bowl berth, his first, and rookie center Travis Frederick has a solid first year. Right tackle Doug Free (who underwent ankle surgery last week) had a bounce back season that warrants a return in 2014.
• Jason Witten finished with eight touchdown catches, the most he's picked up since 2010 when he had a career-high nine scoring plays. Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams emerged as solid 1-2 threats and you can't blame Callahan for the hamstring problems of Miles Austin.
While you look for problems with this Cowboys' team, we can pick on the lack of a commitment to the run game as one, you can't blame the offense as a major problem or weakness.
The Cowboys scored 30 or more points seven times in 2013 and while it couldn't keep pace with the New Orleans Saints, a 49-17 defeat, it did score 48 against Denver and outscored its first three opponents, 83-55.
The offense hung in with the high-powered Philadelphia Eagles in the final game of the season and can blame a Kyle Orton interception as the clincher in the loss.
You can always upgrade the roster at any position. Romo's recovery from back surgery and whether Williams is ready to morph into a starting role are concerns. But overall, you can't find too much fault with the Cowboys offense in 2013.