Draft means Garrett has no excuses
After going heavy on offense in draft, Dallas offense must improve to save coach
IRVING, Texas -- For the most part, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett's offense has been a flop since he arrived as offensive coordinator in 2007. And it hasn't been much better since he's been the head coach.
Fitzsimmons & Durrett
Cowboys second-round draft pick Gavin Escobar joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his strengths as a tight end, the stress of the draft process and the thrill of working with Jason Witten and Tony Romo.
Oh, Garrett's offense has accumulated plenty of yards and a litany of memorable plays. And Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Miles Austin and several offensive linemen have been to the Pro Bowl. Even Laurent Robinson, as anonymous as they come when he arrived in Dallas, earned a mind-blowing deal as a free agent after scoring 11 touchdowns in less than a season in Garrett's offense.
The problem, of course, is for all its gaudy numbers, Garrett's offense has rarely had the point production to match.
That's a huge issue.
In the past five seasons, Garrett's offense has not ranked higher than 10th in points scored -- the best offensive statistic to judge an offense's worth.
If Garrett's offense doesn't score points at a video-game pace next season, he won't be the coach in 2014.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/James D SmithJerry Jones, right, got coach Jason Garrett all he needs to elevate the offense in the draft. Now, Garrett's job might hinge on that unit's performance in 2013.
The Cowboys have removed the excuses. Each and every one of them. Garrett's responsibility is to make the offense work regardless of whether he calls the plays. After all, he now has the center and backup running back he needed. He now has the tight end and receiver he wanted for this offense to maximize its potential.
On a team with an aging defensive line, a questionable starter at strongside linebacker and two huge questions at safety, the Cowboys used their first three draft picks on offensive players.
Each player, according to the Cowboys, ranked among the top 30 on their draft board.
Then, the Cowboys used a fifth-round pick on Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle, the runner Garrett coveted most.
The NFL has never been more about offense than it is right now. All the rules are designed to help the offense, and the Cowboys drafted accordingly this season.[+] EnlargeJeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsThe addition of first-round pick Travis Frederick addressed Dallas' major weakness on the line at the center position.
Escobar gives Garrett the second tight end he coveted to run the two-tight-end offense he loves. Escobar gives the Cowboys a better option than James Hanna if Witten has any injury issues like he did at the start of last season when he ruptured his spleen in the preseason.
Williams gives the Cowboys a terrific option at third receiver.
He allows Miles Austin to operate in the slot, where he's effective, when the Cowboys use formations with three receivers.
More importantly, if Austin's balky hamstrings continue slowing him down or keep him out, the offense won't be nearly as compromised.
All of this should make Romo more productive. Never has the offense been more Romo-friendly.
Sure, questions remain at right tackle and right guard, but the perfect offensive unit doesn't exist in the salary-cap era. Every offense in the NFL has weak spots.
Bill Callahan is one of the highest-paid line coaches in the league, so he needs to coach them up at right guard and right tackle.
If you can think outside of a cigar box, then you'll see this offense is now poised to overcome an injury at every key position. Don't underestimate the importance of that given the rigors of a 16-game schedule.
Jerry Jones has given Romo a $100 million contract extension and Garrett an ultimatum to get this offense turbo-charged.
The game has never been more about offense and quarterbacks. Think about it, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers just signed a $110 million extension. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco received a $120 million contract after leading the Ravens to a Super Bowl, and Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is the next man up.
That's the reason offensive linemen were taken with six of the first 11 picks in the draft and nine were taken overall in the first round.
Teams that can't block either get their quarterbacks hurt or harassed into making mistakes.
Either way, the offense suffers.
The Cowboys' draft picks reinforced the notion Garrett has plenty of clout in the draft room.
The Cowboys have given him what he needs. It's up to Garrett from here on out.
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