Dallas Cowboys: 3 Reasons Jason Garrett Isn't Utilizing Tony Romo Properly

Alex Hall@@AlexKHallCorrespondent IIIDecember 22, 2011

Dallas Cowboys: 3 Reasons Jason Garrett Isn't Utilizing Tony Romo Properly

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    Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo have been working together since 2007; but this season Garrett has failed to fully utilize his star man under center.

    At times this season it's looked like the new head play-caller in Big D has tried to put figurative handcuffs on number 9 by not allowing him to make certain throws or throw the ball at all in some situations.

    Here are five reasons Garrett has yet to fully utilize his starting quarterback.

Restraining Romo in Critical Situations

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    After Romo's meltdown against the Detroit Lions, when he threw back-to-back interceptions for touchdowns to start the second half of the game, it has felt like Garrett has since attempted to limit Romo's role at critical junctures.

    The first instance that immediately comes to mind is the game against the New England Patriots that came just two weeks after the loss to Detroit.

    It was late in the fourth quarter with just over six minutes to go, and Dallas had the ball on offense. Garrett's play-calling throughout what would be the most crucial drive of the game resulted in a run heavy attack on a day where running back Felix Jones was only able to muster up 12 yards on the ground all game.

    Romo was limited to short-range passes, and ultimately the team settled for a field goal, only to see Tom Brady drive down the field and throw the game-winning touchdown and defeat the 'Boys by four points.

    If Dallas wins that contest on the road in Foxboro, where the Pats were undefeated in 18 straight games, perhaps this team gains a great deal of confidence and would already have the NFC East locked up by now.

    Even while beating the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks fairly easily, Romo was unable to eclipse 300 yards through the air. The Dallas quarterback suffered several weeks of a cutback offense in which he was extremely limited in his deep ball attempts.

    Through out the entirety of the 2011 season, Romo has just 18 pass attempts of 30 yards or more.

Abandoning the Run Too Often

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    When Garrett hasn't taken the ball out of Romo's hands with the run game, he's put the ball in his hands too often by moving away from the rushing attack when it struggles early in games.

    When Jones was the starting running back earlier this season, in two of Dallas' most important early games, against the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots, he was limited to just nine and seven carries, respectively.

    Now, the 49ers have been nothing short of outstanding against the run this NFL season; but Jones has always been one of those backs that has the ability to break through a hole for a 60-yard sprint to the end zone, and he just wasn't given the opportunity to do so in Candlestick Park that day.

    The Patriots defense has been the exact opposite of San Francisco's this year, proving to be a unit that's vulnerable against both pass and run. Jones was only given seven attempts to attack a defense he matched up very well against heading in to the contest.

    Even when DeMarco Murray took over, there were two instances where Garrett moved away from the run almost altogether against the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. Murray was limited to eight carries against Philly and 12 for 38 yards against the Cardinals.

    When Romo doesn't have a running game to make the defense worry about, the unit is going to key in on number 9 and when the opposition only has to fear one aspect of your offense, it's fairly easy for them to gain the upper hand.

    Out of the seven games in which Romo has thrown 35 or more pass attempts, the Cowboys have lost five of those contests.

Failure to Acquire Greater Talent on the Offensive Line

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    When watching the 2011 Cowboys on any given Sunday, it's easy to notice that the offensive line is inconsistent and at times is unable to give their field general enough time to scan the gridiron and make a positive throw. This is because Dallas was unable to acquire some necessary upgrades at multiple positions on the line.

    It is true that the lockout did create an altered set of circumstances for this past offseason and hurt the coaches' ability to scout and bring in veteran talent and determine who they wanted to make sure ended up on the roster. Still, despite the outside issues and the fact the Cowboys were a bit strapped financially, there's little excuse for deciding to roll with an offensive line made up of aged veterans and unproven young talent the way this team did.

    Romo has had to battle through the growing pains of center Phil Costa, who continuously snaps the ball either at his quarterback's helmet or his shoelaces. Once the Eastern Illinois alum can coral his snap he then has a short window of time to deliver a smart pass before his line crumbles around him.

    Garrett has shown promise of having the skills to become a fine head coach, and due to this, I can't see why he decided to start this season off with a mostly unknown and unproven offensive line to protect a quarterback coming off a season ending injury the year before.

    The line has gotten better both in terms of protecting Romo and causing less penalties as of late but if Dallas has playoff aspirations they'll need to give their newlywed QB time to throw the football.