FRISCO, Texas – Jay Gruden has his own problems to worry about, but he can empathize with the criticisms facing the Cowboys' coaching staff.
The Cowboys have come under fire since Sunday, after Dez Bryant posted a forgettable stat line in the loss to New York. Bryant was targeted five times on the afternoon, and he finished with just one catch for eight yards, prompting questions about why he wasn't more involved in the offense.
Gruden has plenty of options to balance in Washington, with guys like DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon and Jordan Reed. He was also formerly A.J. Green's offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. If anyone can understand the challenge of getting the ball to his playmakers, it's him.
"It's something where you try to let the play dictate where the ball goes, and you teach your quarterback progressions and reads," Gruden said. "But sometimes at the end of the quarter or at the end of the half, you go in the locker room and you say 'Holy cow, this guy's only got one or two throws – we've got to give him the rock somehow.' That's something that we all have issues with as offensive play callers."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has stressed the importance of making good decisions and taking what the defense allows – especially with a rookie quarterback like Dak Prescott in the lineup. Prescott reiterated that attitude on Wednesday, pointing out that Bryant will have opportunities to make plays within the offense.
"Dez will have balls throughout our offense," he said. "He'll have balls thrown at him this week, he'll make some grabs, we'll make some throws, we'll get those completions. And all the guys will. All the guys will have chances."
All eyes will undoubtedly be on Bryant this weekend – not just because of a potential matchup with Josh Norman, but to see if his role is larger. It might be oversimplifying a challenging matter, but that's life in the NFL.
"I think with a young quarterback like they have in Prescott, I think they have to call the game the way that they see fit and let the ball go where Dak sees fit," Gruden said. "But that's a great challenge for all of us. I ran through it in Cincinnati, and it's not always easy to do."
He added: "A lot of things go into it -- not just playing pitch and catch with a quarterback and a receiver. It's not always as easy as everybody thinks it is."