Offensive Coordinator Bill Callahan has the play-calling reigns, and that’s old news to anyone who even remotely follows the Dallas Cowboys. The one thing we don’t know is how his offensive scheme is going to affect some players this coming season.
One player who showed flashes last season in Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme was Lance Dunbar. He had some chances when DeMarco Murray went down, but he was never really able to break through and prove he could be a full-out rotational running back. He was given some return duties to go along with his occasional carry out of the backfield. That translated into 21 carries for 75 yards and a whopping 261 return yards on 12 attempts. Not huge numbers, but he wasn’t on the field very often.
The one thing everyone has been saying, is when Callahan takes over, there is going to be more focus on the running game. The big thing that showed us all that Dallas was serious, was when they selected Joseph Randle out of Oklahoma State with their fifth-round pick. By adding another starting caliber running back to the mix, we can see Dallas is serious about pounding the ball.
So what does this mean for Dunbar? He has shown he can keep up with the big boys, and yet again he has another back in front of him, taking away his carries. By all indications so far in training camp, there’s going to be no question come Week One, Dunbar will be making an impact not only as a returner, but as a rotational back in Callahan’s run-focused offense.
You all must think I’m crazy with a statement like that. Dunbar can’t be anything other than a scatback-style runner, who makes the biggest impact on special teams. He will be that, but Dunbar will bring so much more to the table than that.
Dunbar has shown through his limited touches last season, as well as during OTAs, mini-camp, and training camp, that he can do everything an NFL running back needs to do. He can get to the outside, he’s not afraid to run up the middle, and he’ll throw everything he has into protecting his quarterback.
Sure Randle is going to get his touches, but Dunbar has one year already under his belt. On top of that, Randle is just now getting a chance to see real action after recovering all off-season from thumb surgery. The speed of the pro game is much faster, and it will take time for Randle to get his legs underneath himself. If Dunbar can continue to impress in camp, and stay healthy and productive throughout the preseason, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be Murray’s backup come Week One. Am I crazy thinking this way?