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Eatman: Jerry's Line Comments Don't Help Stagnant Run Game


About six weeks ago, from the Scouting Combine, owner Jerry Jones made some interesting comments regarding the offensive line in correlation with Tony Romo's playmaking ability.

If you recall, Jones basically said he doesn't share the popular worry amongst Cowboys fans about the offensive line's struggles, mainly because Romo is back there and has proven he can avoid the rush.

"If you're going to have a guy operate behind an offensive line that can a handle porous offensive line, it's Tony," Jones said back on Feb. 23. "Tony has some of the best percentages operating behind pressure situation of anyone in the NFL. If there were a place theoretically that you had to have a weakness with Tony Romo at quarterback, (the offensive line) might be a place to have it. You just can't have it all."

Now, that comment was made before the Cowboys recently signed Romo to a six-year, $108 million extension. Whether or not that was some sort of contract-negotiation ploy, who knows?

And I think we all can see the point: Yes, if Romo can escape the pressure many times, then maybe you can get away with an occasional jailbreak. However, it was a little more than occasional last year, as he was sacked 36 times, which ties his career high for a season. He was also sacked 36 times in 2011. And we saw in 2010 that it only takes one to end his year.

But my biggest question about that statement doesn't even involve Romo. OK, so maybe your quarterback knows how to shake the pressure, but what about the running game?

This "porous" offensive line the owner referred to can get by because of Romo's pocket presence. But when it's third-and-goal from the 2, can that same line provide the necessary push in the running game?

The last few years that answer has been a definite no. The Cowboys have not been able to punch it in on goal line and short-yardage situations. They had just eight rushing touchdowns last year and one came from Romo on a bootleg. The season before they scored just five touchdowns, with another from Romo.

In two years, that's 11 rushing touchdowns from the running backs as a group. Does anyone realize New England's Steven Ridley had 12 touchdowns in 2012? In fact, seven different players had at least 11 rushing touchdowns. And the Cowboys' group of DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and Tashard Choice from early 2011, all combined for 11.

That's a problem. This team must be able to get the ball in the end zone from the ground. [embedded_ad]

Everyone loves to point the finger at Romo for turning the ball over in costly situations. But it seems like there are too many other quarterbacks out there that rarely have to put the ball up when it gets inside the 10. Yeah, a Christian Ponder can win games in this league if he gets to hand it off to Adrian Peterson, who will score 12 times.

And, of course, you guys all know that. You know the Cowboys need to run the ball better. Everyone does.

But it's just another reason why the Cowboys must fix this offensive line up front. Sure, Romo has the ability to avoid a few blitzes now and then, but the last two years are proof the running backs need more help when the team gets close to the goal line.

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