IRVING, Texas – The typical game plan has gone out the window most weeks with the Cowboys consistently trailing and scoring sparingly early in games.
That means less running attempts and more passing attempts as the Cowboys creep back. But even if the rushing attempts aren't going anywhere early, that doesn't mean head coach Jason Garrett wants to stop attacking on the ground if the score's still close.
"You certainly don't want to just give up on things when they don't work the first time," Garrett said. "You want to be persistent with them, particularly the running game. The residual effects of the running game are really positive; they're positive for your offensive line, for your quarterback, for your defense."
Garrett said he tries to get to different packages early on in games to evaluate the defense, but he does in hopes of getting to plays he can trust within that framework. The problem is when something works, like Lance Dunbar's 8-yard run off the left tackle last week, sometimes the Cowboys are unable to get back to those plays.
"When we've behind in games," Garrett said. "We haven't been able to kind of get to the rest of the game plan, so to speak. That can be an issue, but there's no perfect plan with any game."
The score has forced the Cowboys to go a different direction the last few weeks. Garrett said the team has adjusted well within each game going back to Philadelphia, which was the last week the Cowboys scored a touchdown on their first offensive possession.
That was also the last time Dallas ran with any success, finishing with 101 yards on the ground. The Cowboys registered a combined 98 yards rushing the last two weeks. Spreading out the offense and passing seems to be the only way the Cowboys consistently put points on the board in the second half, but Garrett doesn't want to start games that way.
"Game circumstance plays into it, but you have to be careful throwing the ball all the time," he said. "You have to be able to run the football, you've got to be able to play north and south, let these linemen come off the football. It makes everyone's job better."