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Witten Crucial to Garrett's Play-Calling


When you're the head coach of "America's Team," you're going to take some heat when your team doesn't play well or you seem to have a few decision-making blunders on the sideline during a game.

Both have happened some this season to the current Cowboys head coach, Jason Garrett, but he's confident in his offense and the weapons they have. Although quarterback Tony Romo, leads the league in interceptions this season with 13, Garrett believes the play calling structure they have in place is the best for them.

Unlike many head coaches, Garrett is not just the head coach; he also calls the plays on gamedays. Former Oakland head coach Bill Callahan is the offensive coordinator and he helps put together the game plan during the week, but Garrett makes the executive decisions into Romo's ear when play begins. While there's been consideration in the past about letting the coordinator make the play calls, Garrett is not ready to give that role up just yet.

"We've certainly talked about that," Garrett said during his conference call with the Atlanta media on Wednesday. "I think maybe more than anything else, the conclusion we've come to at this point for us, is the comfort level that our quarterback and our offense has with how we've done it the last five or so years. That's an important thing for us, to maintain that continuity."

One thing that hasn't seemed to change over the years on the offensive side of the ball is the play of tight end Jason Witten. Entering his 10th season, the seven-time Pro Bowler is still playing at the top of his game. Last week he caught 18 passes for 167 yards, setting the single-game reception mark by a tight end. Witten was targeted 23 times in the game, ten more than any other tight end in the NFL in Week 8.

Garrett said the tight end was involved in the offense in a variety of ways and has always been a big part of the offense.

"He's such a reliable player," Garrett said. "He's got a great feel for playing the position. He caught a number of different kinds of passing last week and was a guy that really allowed us to move the ball well throughout the game against the Giants. The outside receivers Dez (Bryant) and Miles (Austin) also made a number of plays down the field. Witten was fairly consistent and has been for a long, long time."

Witten was held out of the endzone and this season he's only crossed the goal line one time, but he's always going to be a target for Romo, not unlike the tight end-QB relationship in Atlanta.

"With Witten, he's very crafty," Falcons linebacker Stephen Nicholas said. "Him being a veteran, he knows how to get open, kind of like (Falcons tight end) Tony (Gonzalez)."

This season the Falcons have only allowed two touchdown passes to opposing team's top tight end options, and are averaging an allowed 44 yards per game to the tight end.

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