Branching Out

Playoffs included, Barber has 44 career touchdowns, four times his total of runs of 20 yards or more

Monday the offense worked on short yardage plays of all sorts - inside handoffs, pitches to Jones, passes, play-action passes. There's a lot in the package. We might even see the unit spread defenses out with three wide receivers and run the shotgun draw more often this year. There are a lot of weapons, which gives coordinator Jason Garrett a lot of options. 

"It's the classic 'willow and oak' thing," Garrett said in burn-the-boats fashion. "You need to make sure you have a little 'oak' on your team, which means we're going to do what we do. And you have to have a little 'willow,' which means if they're going to do this, we're going to come back and do this. You're always doing that when you're putting an offense together, and really in every situation - regular down and distance situations, certainly the third down and red zone stuff and the short yardage and goal line stuff as well. 

"You've got to be able to do what you do, but you don't want to do it to the point you're putting your players in a difficult situation. But you have to believe in something. We're going to need to run the ball sometimes when they're playing run defense, and we're going to need to throw the ball sometimes when they're playing pass defense." 

In my estimation, the offense can start shading toward the willow. This team has a greater depth of talent at the skill positions on offense than any other in the league, and there are more ways to get in the end zone than running Barber behind Davis, who let unknown backup linebacker Tim Dobbins through to Barber on three straight plays during the Chargers' goal line stand. 

Obviously the Cowboys want to run behind Davis, but they also need to make other teams respect the pitch to Jones, the jump ball to Martellus Bennett, the fade to Roy Williams, Dez Bryant coming across the middle, Jason Witten on an out, Tashard Choice off tackle and Tony Romo running the bootleg. Too many times last year, with the Cowboys knocking on the door for a touchdown, those guys either didn't have their number called or the play wasn't executed when they got the opportunity. If they can't all somehow start to convert, the offense will have to go back to what it knows - Barber behind Davis more often than not. 

As my Longhorn-fan friends are quick to remind, the Texas backfield for "Roll Left" included both Ricky Williams and Priest Holmes. Simply handing off to one or the other would've made perfect sense. 

But the willow can grow just as shady as the oak, if it gets enough water. I say it wouldn't hurt this offense to start branching out.          

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