Offseason Playbook: Cowboys

A look at Dallas' philosophy, team needs and a key free-agent move

Originally Published: February 27, 2013
By Gary Horton and Field Yates | ESPN Insider
Tony Romo Brad Mills/USA Today SportsThe Dallas Cowboys need to do a better job of keeping Tony Romo upright next season.

In a new offseason series, Insider takes an in-depth look at NFL teams before free agency begins March 12. What is each team's philosophy on offense and defense, biggest needs and one player who could make for an ideal signing in free agency?

Team philosophies

Offense -- While it is still not totally clear whether coordinator Bill Callahan or head coach Jason Garrett will call the plays, the philosophy of this offense will remain pretty much the same. What they will concentrate on in 2013 is better discipline with fewer mental mistakes and better offensive balance, which they can do if they can avoid playing from behind and being forced to abandon the run game. In the run game they want to be a physical zone-blocking front, but they also can change things up with some man looks. Their favorite personnel package is three wide receivers with one back and a tight end, but they will occasionally go to two TEs.

Tony Romo seems to read defenses long to intermediate to short, and he looks for those deep shots to open up the underneath routes. He loves to throw the seam route and he will move TE Jason Witten all over the formation with motion to get the right matchup. They will use their backs as outlet receivers and they really like to incorporate the screen game. One area that they want to improve on is their sight adjustment package, especially when Romo scrambles or boots out of the pocket.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.