With the poor performance from the Dallas Cowboys going into the bye week, one of they key areas of concern was the Cowboys offensive line and running game. With a week of relaxation, offensive lineman eat-a-thons, and kumbaya circles, the Cowboys rushing attack, pass protection, and overall offensive line play seems to have improved to a respectable level.
The initial knee jerk reaction for the past weeks success in the running game is to credit Jason Garrett with his “amazing” play calling and sticking to the run game. The last game the Ravens played, the Kansas City Chiefs (ranked last in NFL.com’s Power Rankings) piled up 214 yards on the ground. It wasn’t hard to see that this defense could be run on.
The credit all should go towards Offensive Line Coach, Bill Callahan. Through the first four games of the season, the Baltimore Ravens allowed and average of 94.5 yards per game. Only when they came against the #1 rushing attack in the NFL (at the time) did they allow such horrific yardage.
Bill Callahan stated in an interview that he “…sent four kids to college on that zone running game.” (Courtesy DallasCowboys.com) It looks as if the work put in by Callahan may start paying off for the Dallas Cowboys. If you look at the teams the Cowboys have faced so far, the Seahawks, Bears, and Buccaneers have the 2nd, 1st, and 4th ranked rush defenses (respectively) and the stout competition can be attributed to the offenses horrible rushing performances thus far.
Remember how Phil Costa was berated last year like an ugly step child for being the lowest rated offensive lineman out of the starting five? Well it looks like his return is beneficial to the Cowboys, and there is something that the Dallas front office and coaching staff saw that most viewers, analysts, and bloggers alike did not.
With a stretch of games against the 23rd, 16th, 27th, 15th, and 25th ranked rushing defenses, look for the Cowboys rushing attack to become the focal point of the offense. This will not only help the Cowboys stay “ahead of the chains” but will allow them to protect the football and Quarterback Tony Romo better.