When a wide receiver suggests that the offense runs the ball more, it's either a miracle, a result of some sort of heavy medication, or an indication that something is wrong; maybe all of the above. But that exactly what Patrick Crayton did yesterday, making him either the most magnanimous receiver in the history of the NFL, or just a conscientious observer who--like the rest of DFW--thinks that Dallas should rely more heavily on their vaunted running attack.
His comments, detailed on the Dallas Morning News' Cowboys Blog, came yesterday as he discussed, well, let's call it a "Romo-friendly" approach, a variation on "less is more" for the struggling quarterback.
"[The offensive linemen] love to have their shoulder pads going forward instead of having to take steps backward," Crayton said. "You've got to feel confident in your line and pound it up there. They're able to handle that, keep putting it on them. A lot people are going to keep putting it on [Tony] Romo and it's not Romo's fault."
Right, but then again, this doesn't exactly come off as a vote of confidence for the quarterback, the criticism of whom is reaching Eli-Manning-pre-2007 levels. Romo hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in each of the last two games; this is something that has never happened, since the 29 year-old was thrown into the starting job in 2007. And if he looks anything in Kansas City like he did in Denver, running the ball more will cease being an option, but rather, a necessity.
"[Romo's] line can protect him but take the ball out of his hands so you don't put it all on him," Crayton said. "He's either going to be the savior or the scapegoat. I'm tired of him being the scapegoat. You guys [the media] keep putting that on him. Dude, to me you've got five guys up front, let Romo turn around and hand it off at times so you don't have that pressure on him."
It would be ridiculous to think that Romo doesn't face a daunting amount of pressure as the quarterback in Dallas; but it would be equally ridiculous to think that any quarterback in the NFL doesn't face the scapegoat-savior distinction each week like the barrel of a gun. It's a part of the job description, like Monday afternoon golf games, and dating smoking-hot blondes.
What this says about Crayton's thoughts on Romo's play of late, I don't know. But one thing's for certain: This doesn't mean that Crayton is criticizing the play-calling. He is not. In fact, he said as much.
"The play-calling is fine," he said. "We just have to execute better."