IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys' wins rarely came easily last season, and their losses rarely came in a bashing.
Most games started with the Cowboys trailing early and mounting a second-half comeback that either sealed a close victory or came up just short. Jason Witten knows the Cowboys need to do a better job of staying in a manageable down and distance and eliminating the pre-snap penalties to allow them to take an early lead and keep it.
Witten talked Tuesday about the importance of the running game this season, keeping DeMarco Murray healthy and using two-tight end and hurry up packages:
How much did a poor running game lead to the offensive problems last season?
Witten:"Any level of football you play, especially in this league, any time you have a good running game, everything else feeds off that. The play action obviously works better off that. You're ahead of the chains, so you can kind of create and dictate the tempo of what you're going to play at. Too many times we were in third-and-8 and second-and-10. The defensive ends are pinning their ears back rushing the passer. I think it all stems from being able to run the ball."
How important is keeping Murray healthy for 16 games?
Witten: "I think it'll be huge for us. He's a guy that plays hard and runs hard. I think we'll do a better job offensively running the ball. We put a lot of emphasis on that, but he's a dynamic back that can create a lot of things for you. He's got to be healthy and be out there. I think he's worked hard to get there and hopefully we'll get to see him here in these OTAs."
What made the Cowboys successful in the no-huddle offense?
Witten: "I think Tony did a good job of finding the open guy when things get emptied out. Even if you go back the previous year, he threw a lot of touchdowns when we were in empty package. It simplifies everything, and he can create 1-on-1 matchups."
Do you expect more no-huddle, hurry-up offense to be used?
Witten: "No, I don't know. We haven't worked it yet. We're just more traditional offense. Vickers is out too, so we've kind of been forced to run 12 (formation) more than we have. We always have that package, but I don't think that's something that we're pushing to do right now."
What do you get out of the OTAs?
Witten: "I think you set the pace now for what training camp's going to be like, and the competition, how you create that. You only get 10 of them, so you've got to let everybody know where we're going into training camp."
Has Gavin Escobar been following all your moves?
Witten: "Got to spend a little time with him at the OTAs, the first couple. I look forward to working (with) him. He works hard. He's a good kid. I think he's just trying to learn. He's bright-eyed and wants to get better at it."