Commentary

Cowboys' offense must find itself fast

Scoring up around NFL, but unit needs to play catch-up against generous Bucs D

Updated: September 21, 2012, 1:08 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Five local television stations joined beat writers and wire services Thursday in comprising a group that waited for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo
Stephen Brashear/Getty ImagesTony Romo says his offense's identity will change with each Cowboys opponent, but Dallas has scored just 31 points through two games.
The Cowboys' offense is searching for an identity two weeks into the season. Romo is one man people come to for answers.

Romo -- wearing a blue T-shirt that read, "What am I doing?" -- tried to provide them.

"It's going to change throughout the year," Romo said of the identity. "Some weeks you're going to run the ball really well; other weeks you're not. Some weeks you're going to throw it for a real high percentage; other weeks you're not. If you think you go into each game and have the same exact output you had the last game with the same people doing things, [it's] just unrealistic."

NFL teams set records for points scored in the first two weeks of the season with 1,556. In Week 2, teams scored 765 points, the seventh most for a single week in league history.

In two weeks, the Cowboys have scored just 31 points, 29th in the NFL. The passing attack, considered a strong point for coach Jason Garrett, is 11th overall at 364.5 yards per game. The run game, something Garrett needs to improve, is just 21st at 96 yards per game.

If the Cowboys are going to achieve their goals, the offense has to improve, starting Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs' defense is 31st in total defense and last against the pass.

Romo is coming off a loss at Seattle in which some of his main receiving weapons dropped five passes. Three of the drops came courtesy of his favorite target, Jason Witten, and two came from wide receiver Dez Bryant.

The running game also was limited to just 49 yards.

Seattle cornerbacks pressured Bryant and Miles Austin at the line of scrimmage, redirecting them from their original routes and forcing Romo to find other targets or wait longer than he would have liked.

Romo expressed no concern with Witten, who leads the NFL with four drops this season.

"[Witten has] been playing a long time," Romo said. "I think he's been so good for us for so long, we're just lucky for him to play at the level he's been. He'll be fine."

In regard to Bryant, who has more drops (two) than touchdowns (none), Romo said the third-year receiver will improve and that he has no worries.

"You're going to see different guys have big games at different times, and I've told you this before," Romo said. "A lot of it is dictated on defensive coverages, what they're doing, and sometimes some games you're going to go [to] different [players]."

A positive for this offense is Romo's success against Tampa Bay. He's 3-0 as a starter against the Bucs with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. But Romo dismisses these numbers because he says each year is different.

Romo has to take charge Sunday if the Cowboys are to go forward with their season. You can't play well offensively against the New York Giants and then score only seven points against Seattle after being down 10-0 in the first nine minutes.

At some point, the offense has to establish itself as a force. Sunday would be a good time to get things going. Given the performance in the win over the Giants, the loss at Seattle could be seen as a step back for the offense.

"One of the things that we [emphasize] with our team a lot is, 'Oh, it's one play,'" Garrett said. "But from an offensive standpoint, we talk about [how] you probably have nine or 10 possessions, true possessions in a ballgame, so it's one play out of those nine or 10 possessions that might really negatively impact the possession, and we had a couple of those."

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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