IRVING, Texas – Let me offer a simple suggestion to the Cowboys’ red-zone woes: Throw the ball to Dez Bryant more often.
The Cowboys have targeted Bryant 11 times in the red zone during his 16-game career. He has caught nine of those passes, scoring on seven of them.
Those numbers look especially impressive, considering that the Cowboys have converted only one-third of their red-zone trips into touchdowns this season. Only Sunday’s visitor, the winless St. Louis Rams, have a worse conversion percentage in the red zone.
Calvin Johnson is the only name that comes to mind when thinking of better jump-ball weapons than Bryant. They’ve attempted two passes to No. 88 inside the 10 this season. The result: two touchdowns.
Romo has attempted 15 passes to other Cowboys inside the 10 this season. The result: two touchdowns.
So simple math says the closer the Cowboys get to the end zone, the bigger Bryant’s share of the balls should be.
Except it isn’t that simple, Romo says.
According to Romo, the Cowboys are seeing a lot of Cover 4 defenses in the red zone. That essentially means double-coverage for Bryant, who has a cornerback on his outside and a safety on the inside. That’s why Romo threw a checkdown to Tashard Choice instead of a fade to Bryant on second-and-goal in the fourth quarter against the Patriots.
“It would have been a force for sure,” Romo said. “Theoretically, yeah, you could throw it, but there’s a very high percentage that it’s not going to turn out very well if you throw it. If they keep a safety over there, they get to play two-on-one.”
Detroit sees similar coverage against Johnson every week, but he’s still on pace to set an NFL record for receiving touchdowns in a season. Can’t Romo throw the fade high and to the back pylon so that it’s to give Bryant – and only Bryant – a chance to make the play?
“Yeah, when it’s one-on-one, that’s what we’re going to do,” Romo said. “We’re going to throw the ball and get certain people the ball in those situations. When they have a safety and they get two guys, it’s not a good matchup. It’s never a good thing.”
Romo has a simple solution of his own for the Cowboys’ red-zone woes, except it’s easier said than done for a team with an offensive line that’s a work in progress.
“When they play with safeties back, a lot of the time you need to be able to run the ball,” Romo said. “Because then they can’t double everybody.”