It’s no secret that the Dallas Cowboys have been one of the NFL‘s most average teams over the past few years. They have finished 8-8 in each of those seasons. Many factors have contributed to their mediocre play, but the biggest piece of the puzzle is the running game. If the Cowboys use the run game to their advantage they will make the playoffs this season.
It appears that the Cowboys have made an effort to improve the run game over the past few years, because they have added great young talent along the offensive line with Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. They have the big, skilled and intelligent men up front to push people around and impose their will on the opponent.
Running back DeMarco Murray has played in 37 career games, and he has less than 15 carries in 19 of those games. He averages 4.0 yards per carry and has been very effective, but he just hasn’t gotten the opportunities other backs around the league receive. When he gets 20 or more carries, the Cowboys are undefeated at 11-0.
It’s like the Cowboys have been oblivious to the run game at times. Some teams force the issue with the run game and the Cowboys seem abandon it without any rhyme or reason.
The Cowboys’ defense is full of unproven players and guys who are coming back from serious injuries. They can’t possibly think that these guys are going to come together and be a stout unit that quickly. The run game will keep those guys off the field, and it can ensure they don’t get worn down while keeping them away from injuries.
The run game will also help the offense. It will provide balance and create options in the playbook. It may make the passing game more potent with the defenders having to worry about the threat of play-action passes.
Maybe the biggest positive of all is that it can keep Tony Romo healthy. He plans on playing another five years, and it would be wise to limit his exposure to the defense. He can only run for his life escaping from pressure so many times before he takes the monster hit. It appears the Cowboys have drafted with Romo’s health in mind, but the offensive line is only half the equation. They must get the ball out of his hands and allow the group of running backs to take the pressure off him.
That type of game plan can assure that the Cowboys avoid huge collapses like they had against the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers when they elected to keep passing in critical moments. Those should have been victories and were the difference in not making the playoffs. If you look at the successful teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, they have some games where they will run 35 times if that will result in a win.
Dallas must emphasize the run game, because it’s been their missing ingredient. It’ll keep Romo healthy, improve both sides of the ball and finally push them into the the postseason.