IRVING, Texas – A tough loss on Sunday prompted some tough questions Monday for Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
Having digested the film from the 17-16 loss to Kansas City, Garrett spoke to the media about his takeaways from the trip to Arrowhead Stadium. Predictably enough, the line of questioning centered on the Cowboys' inability to run the ball against a stout Chiefs defense, as well as the team's playcalling in certain situations.
Despite the Cowboys' intention to improve the running game this season, running back DeMarco Murray carried the ball just 12 times for 25 yards against the Chiefs. Garrett said the Cowboys have to do a better job of executing in game situations.
"We've got to take that stuff to the game," Garrett said. "It's as simple as that, and we have to continue to work on it."
Even with the average of 2.1 yards per carry, Murray's day was far more productive than any other Dallas running. Lance Dunbar had two touches on the day, the second of which ended in a lost fumble. Phillip Tanner didn't touch the ball, and rookie Joseph Randle was inactive for the game.
"Obviously we haven't run the ball as well as we wanted to run it these first couple of weeks of the season, and we just have to continue to work on it," Garrett said.
Crowd noise and other factors from a raucous road environment at Arrowhead Stadium also contributed to the Cowboys' paltry rushing total. Garrett said the Cowboys ran a good deal of no-huddle plays to combat that disadvantage, with resulted in a lopsided stat sheet.
"Yesterday's game we were in some no huddle situations for different reasons -- to attack the defense, to handle some of the third down situations, to handle the crowd noise and we simply threw the ball too much in those situations," he said.
Chief among the playcalling concerns was one play that's bound to stand out from the loss. Garrett faced several questions about a tough third and goal call, in which Tony Romo threw a screen pass to receiver Terrance Williams for a loss of three yards from the Kansas City nine-yard line. [embedded_ad]
"When the plays don't work -- I understand why people don't like those plays," Garrett said. "But we're trying to get in the best plays and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't."
Garrett added that the Chiefs' aggressive defensive mindset contributed to the call.
"They've been a pressure team - -screens typically work well against pressure teams," he said.
Here are some more notes from the Monday press conference:
- DeMarcus Ware appeared to sustain a shoulder injury late in the Chiefs game, following a sack that was eventually waved off for a delay of game. "We don't think that's going to be a big issue," Garrett said of the injury.
- Dez Bryant made it through the game without aggravating his sprained foot from last week, Garrett said.
- Garrett was asked if the coaching staff has considered adding a fullback to the roster to help bolster the running game. He said a lot of that decision depends on the availability of a quality fullback as a free agent, but he added he doesn't think that's the issue with the Cowboys' running game. "We just have to execute better," he said.
- Asked if he had a certain number of rushing attempts in mind, Garrett said, "I don't know that there's a minimum number, but there needs to be more than there's been – I don't think anybody disputes that." The Cowboys have 34 rush attempts, not counting quarterback scrambles, through two weeks.
- Garrett said Romo didn't appear to be hampered by his Week 1 rib injury during the game, but he added, "You'd have to ask him about how he was feeling at different times in the game."