IRVING, Texas – Chalk it up as stating the obvious, but Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has seen his offense play better this year, and he’d like to see it again.
With two weeks to stew about his team’s worst offensive output in recent memory, Jones said he’d love to see a return to good form – citing offensive explosions in the shootout with Denver and the beatdown of St. Louis earlier this fall.
“I'd like to see us play like we did against Denver. I'd like to see us play the way we did against, frankly, St. Louis, those good games where we had good offensive games. I'd like to see that kind of offensive continuity,” Jones said. “We need to get some drives going. We need to keep that defense off the field, all of that. That's what I'd like to see."
Jones frequently stresses the importance of communication with his coaching staff, and that appears to be the case here. Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan spoke at length Thursday about the offense’s recent struggles, and he said the key comes on third down.
“I keep going back to third downs, and those are crucial downs. If you’re going to have success there, you’re going to have another opportunity to extend drives,” Callahan said. “I would say we haven’t had as many sustainable drives and opportunities, which keeps the numbers down.”
The Cowboys’ abysmal showing of 0-of-9 on third down two weeks ago in New Orleans is a well-known stat by now.
“You don’t want that ever to happen. Over the course of the years, you know that’s going to happen once,” he said. “You have to figure out why and make sure it doesn’t happen again. That’s our goal and our objective going forward.”
Judging by the stats, Romo would be well-served not just by converting third downs, but by finding yardage on first and second down. Against Denver, the Cowboys only faced six third downs all afternoon, converting four of them. Against St. Louis, they were 5-of-11, or 45 percent.
“Each week is going to come up differently, but you want to get to a point where you’re playing at a high level week in and week out,” Romo said. “That’s our goal, and I think we’re taking steps to ensure that.”
A cold-weather game against a divisional rival will certainly be the judge of that. The Cowboys have only reached 350 yards of total offense twice in the five games since they lost to the Broncos. They failed to crack even 300 yards of offense in the other three.
Callahan said there has been focus on making changes to improve that fact. With two weeks to prepare, though, he said the offense is ready to give it a shot, lest they change too much.
“We’ve taken the bye week to spend a lot of time trying to position guys in different locations and spots. So we’re anxious to get going and see what it looks like,” he said. “Because any time you’ve come off a long break and you’ve had time – it can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing. They always say ‘Don’t give coaches too much time to reinvent the wheel.’”