In the first few weeks of the season, the Cowboys were one of the most prolific running teams in the league. But in Sunday's 17-7 loss in Green Bay, the running game was barely a consideration. The talented trio of Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice combined for 11 carries.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's apologists have gathered evidence to show that the Cowboys couldn't run because of poor down-and-distance situations. But early in the game, it looked like Barber was going to have a big day. Then Nick Folk missed a short field goal and it was like Garrett completely forgot about the run option. Here's what Choice had to say about the matter:
"I think we've got to run it more," Choice said. "Sometimes it's just the situation but that's our biggest strength on our football team offensively is running the football. We've got to get back to it like at the beginning of the season, which we will. They've got to feed Barber. They've got to feed Felix and when I can sneak in and get myself a crack in there then I can do my thing."
And Choice isn't the only one at Valley Ranch making statements like that. Coach Wade Phillips said Monday during his news conference that his team needed to run the ball more. But that's a huge part of the problem.
Owner Jerry Jones has set up an organizational chart in which Phillips appears to have little or no say about the offense. So Phillips' complaints Monday came off as a cheap second-guess. If the head coach doesn't think his team's running the ball enough during a game, shouldn't he walk over and mention that to the offensive coordinator?
It's not like Phillips has to wait for the postgame play-by-play packet to know that his team's not attempting to run the ball. All he has to do is look out there and see his quarterback getting sacked over and over again by the Packers.
Here's an interesting stat from Dallas Morning News Cowboys beat man Gerry Fraley: The Cowboys are 1-16 in this decade when they run the ball fewer than 20 times. And here's what Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers said following Sunday's game:
"The game became one-dimensional,'' Capers told reporters. "You can just go out and blitz, but if people are going to run the ball for big yardage on you, you're foolish."
Teams normally become one-dimensional when they fall behind by two scores or more. But the Cowboys' one-dimensional approach appeared to be self-inflicted.