The declining numbers in the passing game _ namely a sudden lack of vertical throws _ might suggest that the Cowboys are reigning in supposedly turnover prone quarterback Tony Romo. His yards per attempts are down not just from past years but from earlier this year.
But the Cowboys says it's more the result them adjusting for an inexperienced and banged up line, the lack of opportunities and an heavier emphasis on the run game than an avoidance of having Romo take shots down the field.
Romo, who has averaged less than three pass plays of 20 yards or more the last three weeks after connecting on almost six per game the first four games, was actually put off by the question.
"That just seems silly," Romo said. "You guys just have different numbers that tell you whatever. It’s the opponents you’re going against. You have more time, you’re able to take shots down field. When you have less…that’s part of it. When you’re running the ball well you’re able to take more. There’s a lot that goes into it. We’re always pushing the ball down the field. From week to week, that will vary here and there."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys dailed things down against the Redskins, the first game Romo played with a fractured rib. He has got healthier each week and while he will still wear the protective vest against the Seahawks Sunday, he may not take a pain killing injection before the game for the first time.
But the bigger problem has the flux on the offensive because of youth and injuries. The Cowboys started the season with three first-year starters, including two rookies at center, guard and tackle.
The result is that Romo has not had as much time to throw the ball down the field, causing him to take less vertical attempts.
"When you are playing young guys that is part of it," Garrett said. "You have to keep playing and keeping trying to get to some of those things. But having young guys play early in the season impacts the football team, the run game and the pass game. That is the nature of it."
Clarence E. Hill Jr.