Solving Cowboys’ identity crisis under Jason Garrett

The phrase “identity crisis” has been thrown around a lot in nearly every Dallas Cowboys conversation over the past week, a theme present pretty much since the moment Jason Garrett turned from Jerry’s beloved offensive guru to head coach of an NFL team. But the search for an identity Dallas can win consistently behind could form around Rob Ryan and the personnel on defense.

While offensive coordinator and play-caller under Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett was viewed as the rising star of offensive minds. The next Sean Payton. Since becoming head honcho, he’s spurred perhaps more criticism and head-scratching than adulation, despite his play-calling role remaining basically the same.

The Cowboys are passing too much. The Cowboys aren’t passing enough. What was Garrett thinking in the fourth quarter? Is Tony Romo a Super Bowl quarterback? #tweetsfromeveryear

It’s absurd to say Romo can’t start for a Super Bowl winner, but whether or not he does will be seen, and I believe their chances are greater if they take a little off his plate. And this is not a criticism of Romo, but a criticism of everything to the right of Tyron Smith on this line. It’s also Dez Bryant clearly lagging miles behind his vast potential, while acknowledging he’s only 23. Miles Austin eternally battles his hamstring. It’s Kevin Ogletree torching Giants No. 35 corner Justin Tryon but no one else.

For all the talk of RG3, Michael Vick and Jay Cutler taking a licking, I would put the level of harassment Romo is forced to deal with up there. He makes the most of it — he might have the greatest discrepancy between stats and quality of play of any quarterback in the NFL this season up to the start of tonight’s Bears game — but I’m not sure Dallas can live with that much longer, for the health of both the quarterback and offense.

I’m not claiming to have some sort of solution that Jason Garrett can’t come up with, but I’m predicting a shift in how aggressive the Cowboys play offensively, and for the better. Shorter drop-backs, more runs, less reliance on Romo scrambling for his life. And more reliance on this filthy defense.

Brandon Carr, what a gem. That honestly looks like a better signing than the Eagles grabbing Nnamdi Asomugha. Morris Claiborne looks like he could garner some Defensive Rookie of the Year consideration. Good rotation on the defensive line. Sean Lee as one of the league’s fastest rising stars at inside linebacker. DeMarcus Ware….is DeMarcus Ware. Oh yeah, and the defensive coordinator any team with a vacancy would kill for in Rob Ryan.

The Dallas Cowboys entered Week 4 as the NFL’s lowest-scoring team. Extrapolate stats through three weeks to add Week 4 and the Cowboys would have the NFL’s 30th-ranked pass-blocking unit according to Pro Football Focus, while dropping back the eighth-most times.

Romo is too good to be reduced to an Alex Smithi-type role, and it wouldn’t be smart to dissuade him from improvising or going downfield. But perhaps it is time to get a bit more conservative in Dallas, which with a defense like that can be a recipe for that elusive steady success.


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